China surpassed the United States in patent applications in 2011 for the first time.
According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), about 2.14 million patent applications were filed in 2011 worldwide. 526,000 were filed in China - more than twice the patent applications filed in 1995 - followed by the U.S. with 504,000, Japan with 343,000, and South Korea at 179,000. The European Patent Office received 143,000 patent applications.
The organizations that filed the patent applications were predominantly located in Japan (472,000), China (436,000) and the U.S. (432,000).
According to WIPO's World Intellectual Property Indicators 2012 report, almost one million new patents were approved in 2011. Japan's patent office leads the charge with 238,000 patents, ahead of the USPTO with 225,000 and the Chinese patent office (172,000).
WIPO said that there were a total of 7.88 million patents active in 2011