Published On: March 15th, 2021Categories: Intellectual Property, IP Management, IP Strategy, Patent Applications, Patents

The COVID-19 pandemic upended just about every aspect of our lives. Nearly 90% of executives believe that COVID-19 will fundamentally change the way they do business in the next five years based on a survey conducted by McKinsey and Company.1

But every crisis also presents opportunities, and the pandemic certainly hasn’t deterred organizations from innovating to maximize those opportunities. Some industries had to make modifications to their patent budgets, whereas others had to change their business models entirely. In times of uncertainty, it’s clear that organizations have to be very strategic about their research and development investments.

Larger players, however, continue to make massive investments in research and development. Samsung, the South Korean conglomerate, spent $18.56 billion in 2020 in research and development, which equates to 8.9% of its annual sales.2 IBM was granted more than 9,000 patents last year which is an average of more than 175 patents per week.3 This emphasizes the commitments that these large companies place on safeguarding their intellectual property.

As expected, there has been a general rise in the patents being published over the years. But with the onset of the pandemic in the last year, experts have speculated on the effects of budget cuts and the corresponding impact on patent filings and delays in processing by the various patent offices. But we may see modest growth in the number of worldwide PCT patent filings based on early data from WIPO.4 Industries and their respective companies have taken advantage of the changing business environment, some even seeking to venture out into previously uncharted territories.

Global Patent Publications: Key Insights for 2020

As our team of experts compiled the report, we analyzed some of the macro trends and shifts in patent publications across organizations, academia, and industry. The extensive report dives deeply into the analysis of the patent market for the second half of the previous decade (2015 to 2020).

We have also listed the crucial milestones that were achieved in the patent arena and give a broader view of the various publication trends previously unknown. This will enable our readers to make sense of the present trends, and leverage that knowledge to make any strategic or tactical decisions related to their business or organization.

A snapshot of the data available in our in-house report is summarized below.

Total Publications


Patent/Pending Applications/Design/Utility Models

Filed Globally

#1 Country


2,017,749 Patents/Pending

Applications Filed in China

#1 Organization



Patents/Pending Applications Filed Worldwide

#1 Academia/Research Institute

University of California


Patents/Pending Applications Filed Outside China


Over eight million patent publications came out last year. The data from our analysis show that there is an increasing trend, but what is surprising to note is that the increase is not gradual but a steep one. Interestingly, China took the pole position in this patent race by sheer volume. Utility model patent publications far outweighed the design and plant patents.

Since we are already talking about Asian countries, another critical inference is that, among all the patents granted by the various patent offices, 3 out of the top 5 positions were taken up by Asian countries: China, Japan, and South Korea. Among the organizations who were assigned patents, the top 4 spots were held by countries from Asia, again. This is a clear indication that innovative companies have started to take shape within Asia.

European companies have not fared well in getting as many patent publications in the past year. Only two companies, Bosch and Ericsson, made it to our list of Top 30 when it came to organizations that filed the most number of patents last year.

In 2020, nearly 4% of the patents were owned by the top 20 applicants, including Samsung, IBM, Ford, Haier, Tencent, Apple, etc. Huawei filed the most patent applications globally at 27,135 followed by Oppo and Samsung.

Academia also continues to play an important role in the innovation process. Nearly 6.6% of the patents/applications published in 2020 came from universities and research institutions. The University of California was among the leading patent filers among academic institutions and research institutes outside China.

The report is not only suitable for people focusing on one particular industry or jurisdiction. Our team has broken down the entire report into various sub-categories. The data has been divided based on the target market, has the list of the top players in the academic and general space, and various sectors. These sectors include, but are not limited to, aerospace, chemicals, consumer electronics, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, and more. This will enable our readers to drill down on finer data points and comparisons with improved precision.

Patent Publication Trends Report has data that can support all your business decisions and help you realign your business goals and visions based on the market trend. The report is free for all users without hidden costs or limitations.

Through this report, we believe businesses can identify untapped potential and key niche markets, jurisdictions, sectors, etc., which can help them generate a better ROI for their business. You can reach us at [email protected] for any other custom reports or inquiries you may have.

1 Innovation in a crisis: Why it is more critical than ever
2 Top Patent Holders Of 2020
3 IBM’s innovation: Topping the US patent list for 28 years running
4 Innovation Perseveres: International Patent Filings via WIPO Continued to Grow in 2020 Despite COVID-19 Pandemic

Have any content requests?

You can let us know at [email protected]

Get the latest IP data, insights and inspiration directly delivered to your inbox