World's Top Five Patent Producers
As a follow-up to this recent post on historical U.S. patent activity, the chart above shows the annual number of patents granted for the top five patent-producing countries in 2009 over the period 1995-2009 (data here, note that for Europe, it's the "European Patent Office" that is being used here). Here are some interesting observations:
1. Following a ten-year period from 1998 to 2007 when the U.S. granted more patents than any country in the world in every year, Japan took the number one place in 2008 and 2009, and produced 15.5% more patents than the U.S. in 2009.
2. In 1995, China granted only 3,393 patents, about 3% of the number of patents registered in the U.S. (101,419) and Japan (109,100) in that year. In 2004, China granted more patents than Korea for the first time, and in 2005 more patents than Europe. By 2009, China granted more patents (128,489) than Korea (56,732) and the European Patent Office (51,969) combined.
3. Korea registered only half the number of patents in 2009 (56,732) as in 2006 (120,790) and 2007 (123,705).
Update: The chart below shows the U.S. share of total world patents granted annually from 1883 to 2009. America's share was above 30% as recently as 2001, 2002 and 2003, has been above 20% in every year since 1987, and was as low as 12.6% in 1979.