Switzerland ranked highly for international patents in 2017

Switzerland filed almost 4,500 international patent applications with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in 2017 Keystone

Switzerland was the eighth biggest source of international patent applications and second of design applications last year, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). 

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Switzerland moved up the WIPO 2017 ranking by one place with a total of 4,491 international patent applications (+2.8%). It nonetheless remains well behind first-placed United States (56,624), China (48,882; +36%) and Japan (48,208). 

“The rate of growth of patents [in 2017] exceeds again that of the world economy,” WIPO director-general Francis Gurry told a press conference in Geneva on Wednesday. 

The top filers of patent applications at WIPO in 2017 were Chinese technology companies Huawei and ZTE Corp, followed by US-based Intel Corp, Japan's Mitsubishi Electric Corp and the US company Qualcomm Inc. At current rates, China will overtake the US to become the biggest source of international patent applications in the WIPO system within three years, WIPO said. 

Swiss firms included the engineering giant ABB, which was behind 328 international patent applications, Philip Morris (268) and Nestec – Nestlé’s research centre in Lausanne. In Switzerland, medical technologies were the leading industrial sector for patent applications, ahead of packaging, transport and delivery companies and electric machinery. 

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Gurry described Switzerland’s success as “extremely important compared to its population and size”. 

Trademark applications to WIPO also increased by 5% last year. Swiss applications rose by 7% to 3,280. The Basel-based pharma giant Novartis stands in fourth place for trademark applications. Germany remained the leader for filings of design applications to WIPO (4,261), ahead of Switzerland (2,935). The Swatch Group was responsible for 285 filings last year, 100 fewer than in 2016.  

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