China’s intellectual property office received a record number of 1.54 million patent applications in 2018, making it the biggest filer and accounting for 46.4% of total patent filings globally as the country pushes ahead with a self-reliance drive in core technology.

Patent filing activity in China grew by 11.6% last year and its number of filings was roughly equal to the combined total of countries ranked two through 11, as the country seeks to fend off US pressure over trade and tech.

Chinese telecommunication gear provider Huawei Technologies ranked No. 1 with 3,369 invention patents granted. (Picture: Reuters)

The US came in second with 597,141 filings, followed by Japan (313,567), South Korea (209,992) and the European Patent Office (174,397), according to a report published by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) on Wednesday.

“China has been the main driver of global growth in IP filings in recent years and it was once again the main source of growth in worldwide IP filings in 2018,” said Francis Gurry, Director General of WIPO. “The volumes of applications in China are quite exceptional.”

However, Gurry highlighted that the US was still the country seeking the most amount of foreign protection of intellectual property developed by US individuals and companies. US applicants filed around 230,000 patent applications overseas, more than three times the number for China.

China has three types of patent: invention, utility model and design. There were 1.39 million domestic invention patent applications in 2018, making up about 90% of total patents filed last year, according to an annual report published by China's National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) in May.

Technologies companies had the most invention patents granted last year, based on CNIPA’s report.

Chinese telecommunication gear provider Huawei Technologies ranked No 1 with 3,369 invention patents granted. Other technology companies in the top 10 were Chinese smartphone maker Oppo, LCD panel maker BOE Technology, appliance manufacturer Gree Electric Appliances, computer maker Lenovo Group, game giant Tencent Holdings and telecom equipment maker ZTE Corp.

The other two companies on the list were state-owned Sinopec and PetroChina.

Although the filing numbers do not necessarily correspond with dramatic advances in innovation, the rising total indicates that the country is taking its leadership’s call for greater self-sufficiency in core tech seriously.

Last week the US added 28 Chinese public security bureaus and companies to a US trade blacklist over what Washington described as human rights abuses – namely Beijing’s treatment of Uygur Muslims and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities. Companies on the US Entity List cannot buy American-made technology.