Resident & Non-Resident Patent Protection By Country

Patents can tell a lot about the state of innovation in a given region. But how much of that innovation is organic? This byt3 explores the volume of patent filings by country and applicant type (resident & non-resident) to get a glimpse into how “native” a country’s patented innovations really are. Bear in mind, however, that patents are only one facet of gauging innovation. If a country has 1000 patent variants of an autonomous Swiffer® duster, it might be worth questioning the overall quality of patents. The global view below shows the percentage of resident patent filings in all countries that had the most up-to-date data from the World Bank going up to 2016.

v2 Resident Patent Map

What is immediately evident, albeit broadly, is the hemispheric difference between “organic” patent filings in the Eastern & Western Hemispheres. The generally darker shades of blue/teal in the Eastern Hemisphere denote that the majority of patents filed in those given countries are from native residents. 24 of the countries had resident patent filings at a rate of at least 90% and primarily came from the European region. On the flip side, countries like Canada have only 12% of their patent filings coming from residents, which could be partially explained by some of their strategies to attract foreign graduate and post-graduate students, which includes relaxed immigration policy.

With respect to sheer volume, China alone has filed almost as many patents (both residents and non-residents) than all the other countries combined (1.33M to 1.59M filings). The graph below (resident minus non-resident filings) shows just how large the “organic” base of patent filings are in China compared to the remaining countries

Highest:Lowest Patent Filings

While this number could be taken as a testament to China’s productivity/innovation, China’s population size must be taken into account. Furthermore, China has been notoriously difficult for foreign firms to conduct business, and delving into the quality of their patent filings is a significant undertaking. But between banning/censorship of major foreign companies’ products (Netflix, Facebook, etc.) and native behemoths such as Alibaba, they certainly have enough intellectual horsepower to innovate within their own borders.