Which Countries are Granted the Most New Patents?
Click to view this graphic in a higher-resolution.
Which Countries are Granted the Most New Patents?
Every year, the UN’s World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) tracks hundreds of thousands of patents across industries.
These patents grant their inventors exclusive intellectual property rights over their creations. They encourage new ideas, spur scientific development, and lead to new technologies and entire sectors being born.
However, the number of patents granted varies greatly across nations. When viewing the origin of each patent’s applicant, we see a handful of countries dominating certain industries.
In this graphic, Jacqueline Ann DeStefano-Tangorra uses 2021 WIPO data to showcase which countries were granted the most new patents, along with their sector categorizations.
Countries with the Most New Patents
In 2021, out of 1,608,375 patents across multiple fields, 87% were granted to innovators from just six countries.
|Applicants by Country||Granted Patents (2021)||% of Total|
|🇺🇸 United States||286,205||17.8%|
|🇰🇷 South Korea||156,972||9.8%|
|🇬🇧 United Kingdom||20,009||1.2%|
|🌎 Other Countries||186,192||11.6%|
After rapidly increasing its patent output in recent years, China topped the chart in 29 out of 36 total fields including computer technology, electrical machinery, and digital communication. The Chinese government’s focus on innovation led to the nation’s applicants receiving 38% of the 1.6 million patents granted in 2021.
The United States—home to the world’s largest tech companies—came in second with 286,205 granted patents by origin. The U.S. also topped four fields of its own: medical technology, engines and turbines, basic communication processes, and unknown (for inventions that can’t be assigned to a specific field).
Not far behind is Japan with 256,890 granted patents. It dominated the other nations in the fields of semiconductors, optics, and furniture and games, cementing its well-earned reputation of technological innovation.
“Unknown” origin applicants, for which the nationality or country of residence couldn’t be determined for the inventor(s), accounted for 24,677 of granted patents.
The Origin of New Patents by Field
When assessing which technological fields inventors are pursuing in 2021, it’s not unexpected that digital and electrical technologies are in the lead:
|Rank||Main Field of Technology||% of Granted Patents|
|2||Electrical machinery, apparatus, energy||6.6%|
|8||Other special machines||3.6%|
|9||Audio visual technology||3.3%|
|20||Furniture & games||2.3%|
|21||Basic materials chemistry||2.3%|
|22||Engines, pumps, turbines||2.2%|
|24||Organic fine chemistry||2.0%|
|25||IT methods for management||1.9%|
|26||Macromolecular chemistry, polymers||1.7%|
|27||Other consumer goods||1.7%|
|29||Thermal Processes and apparatus||1.6%|
|30||Surface technology, coating||1.5%|
|31||Textile & paper machines||1.5%|
|33||Basic communication processes||0.6%|
|34||Analysis of biological material||0.6%|
|35||Micro structural & nano technology||0.2%|
There are also many patents granted mainly in infrastructure-related fields, which have become all the more important following the COVID-19 pandemic and an increasing focus on trade.
These include medical technology, transport, civil engineering, and semiconductors.
A Tech-Savvy Future
The number of patents granted in 2021 is a testament to the growing importance of innovation around the world.
While a select few nations have dominated the patent landscape so far, there are many others making significant contributions to innovation and intellectual property.
As technology continues to advance and the global economy becomes more interconnected, the importance of intellectual property rights will only continue to grow.
This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.
Ranked: America’s Largest Semiconductor Companies
This graphic visualizes the market capitalizations of America’s 15 largest semiconductor companies.
Ranking America’s Largest Semiconductor Companies
As our world moves further into an era of widespread digitization, few industries can be considered as important as semiconductors.
These components are found in almost everything we use on a daily basis, and the ability to produce them domestically has become a topic of national security. For example, in 2022 the Biden administration announced the CHIPS and Science Act, which aims to strengthen America’s position in everything from clean energy to artificial intelligence.
With this in mind, we’ve ranked the top 15 U.S. semiconductor companies by their market capitalizations.
Data and Highlights
The data we used to create this infographic is listed in the table below. Year-to-date (YTD) returns were included for additional context. Both metrics are as of May 30, 2023.
|Rank||Company||Ticker||Market Cap (USD billions)||YTD Return|
|13||Marvell Technology Group||MRVL||$54||76.2%|
At the top is Nvidia, which became America’s newest $1 trillion company on Tuesday, May 30th. Shares pulled back slightly over the day and Nvidia closed at $992 billion. Over the past decade, Nvidia has transformed from a gaming-focused graphics card producer to a global leader in AI and data center chips.
In third and sixth place are two of America’s most well known chipmakers, AMD and Intel. These longtime rivals are moving in opposite trajectories, with AMD shares climbing 770% over the past five years, and Intel shares falling 47%. One reason for this is the data center segment, in which AMD appears to be stealing market share from Intel.
Further down the list we see Applied Materials in seventh, and Lam Research in ninth. Both firms specialize in semiconductor manufacturing equipment and thus play an important role in the industry’s supply chain.
Trade War Impacts
As tensions between the U.S. and China escalate, chipmakers are becoming increasingly entangled in geopolitical conflict.
In October 2022, the Biden administration introduced new export controls aimed at blocking China’s access to semiconductors produced with U.S. equipment. This impacted several companies in our top 15 list, including Lam Research and Applied Materials.
Shortly after the export controls were announced, Lam Research said it expected to lose upwards of $2.5 billion in annual revenues.
We lost some very profitable customers in the China region, and that’s going to persist, obviously.
– Doug Bettinger, CFO, Lam Research
In response, China announced in May 2023 that it would no longer allow America’s largest memory chipmaker, Micron, to sell its products to “critical national infrastructure operators”.
This is not the first time Micron has been involved in a controversy with China. In 2018, the firm alleged that Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit, a Chinese state-owned company, had solicited a Micron employee to steal specifications for memory chips. The U.S. Department of Commerce imposed export restrictions on Fujian Jinhua as a result.
Chipmakers on both sides of the Pacific will be closely watching as competition between these two countries heats up.
Markets2 hours ago
Mapped: The Growth in House Prices by Country
AI2 weeks ago
Ranked: The World’s Top 25 Websites in 2023
Travel4 weeks ago
Ranked: Top 10 Cities Where International Travelers Spend the Most
AI2 weeks ago
Visualizing the Top U.S. States for AI Jobs
VC+4 weeks ago
Coming Soon: Here’s What’s Coming to VC+ Next
Maps1 week ago
Mapped: Renewable Energy and Battery Installations in the U.S. in 2023
Markets4 weeks ago
Visualizing the American Workforce as 100 People
Technology1 week ago
Nvidia Joins the Trillion Dollar Club