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Delicieuxz

Japanese report reveals which countries lead the race to file tech patents - China features as a tech-patent superpower

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Posted · Original PosterOP

Japanese company Nikkei has released a presentation of showing which countries have filed the most technological patents from per year, from 2000 up to 2017, separating the patents into the 10 categories of:

 

Conductive polymers

Drones

Lithium-ion batteries

Virtual reality

Cyber security

Blockchain

Autonomous driving

Regenerative medicine

Quantum computing

AI

 

Report overview: China beats US in key patents to secure technological dominance – report

 

Report presentation: Patent Wars in Digital Era

 

Quote

TOKYO -- China and the U.S. are competing to be the world's technological master 10 years from now, according to a Nikkei study of patent data in 10 categories, including artificial intelligence, blockchain and drones. Judging by the number of applications filed, China has pulled away in nine of the 10 categories, with tech giants Baidu and Alibaba Group Holding proving to be the major innovators.

According to another data set, one that measures patent quality, the U.S. remains a formidable force. By this yardstick, 64 of the global top 100 companies are currently American.

 

Quote

China scored an overwhelming victory in 2017, holding the top spot in nine categories. It accounted for 49% of all applications in all 10 categories that year.

 

668573634_Nikkeireportonpatents-2017.png.e69cfecf6d878d7cc2dce7a56e34d63b.png

 

 

The presentation depicts Japan as leading the charge from 2000 - 2003, before the US was dominant from 2004 - 2011. Then, in 2012, China and the US were about tied, and then China become increasingly dominant from 2012 - 2017.

 

In 2017, the most tech patents were filed by China, then the US, South Korea, Japan, Germany. And 49% of all tech patents filed that year were filed by China.

 

Interestingly, China's representation in the rankings is shown to have increased very steadily year over year from 2000 until 2017, by which point China was absolutely dominant, having filed the most patents for the year in 9 out of the 10 tech categories, with the US having filed the most patents relating to quantum computing.

 

 

It was news to me that China has been so dominant in tech patents because of all the noise I've often heard online about China not being very innovative itself, but relying on stealing US and other countries' tech. Yet their patent filings trend offers a different picture.

 

And China's government sounds like it's fed-up with being accused of stealing US tech, as China's ministry of foreign affairs reportedly has, fiercely, just thrown the US' accusations of China spying, hacking, and technology theft back at it, by charging that the US government has "conducted large-scale, organized and indiscriminate cyber theft, tapping and surveillance on foreign governments, businesses and individuals, a fact already well-known to all", adding that "Facts have proven time and again that as the largest state actor of espionage in the cyber space, the US is worthy of the name of 'Empire of Hackers' ", and that the US has "no credibility" on the subject of hacking because it “keeps playing the victim of cyberattacks, like a thief crying ‘stop thief’!”

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19 minutes ago, Delicieuxz said:

 

It was news to me that China has been so dominant in tech patents because of all the noise I've often heard online about China not being very innovative itself, but relying on stealing US and other countries' tech. Yet their patent filings trend offers a different picture.

Your own quoted bit of the article explains this dichotomy quite nicely.

 

"According to another data set, one that measures patent quality, the U.S. remains a formidable force"

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Looks like China has been very busy stealing trade secrets.

Joking aside, I didn't expect Canada to be up there.


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2 hours ago, Xiee said:

Joking aside, I didn't expect Canada to be up there.

We provide cheap(-ish) and skilled labour relative to the USA for high value added segments of supply chains. A good bit of that is design and R&D work.

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4 hours ago, Xiee said:

China has been very busy stealing trade secrets.

My thoughts precisely when I read a little bit and saw a little graphics.

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This says nothing as apparently it shows only absolute numbers and not relative numbers to the population or GDP. China has got 5 times the population of the US so in order to perform equally they would have to file 5 times the patents of the US. And they also compare China to countries like Switzerland or Israel which is even more ridiculous. Switzerland has got a population of 8 million, that's approximately 1/180 of China's population.


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Posted · Original PosterOP
28 minutes ago, oeci said:

This says nothing as apparently it shows only absolute numbers and not relative numbers to the population or GDP. China has got 5 times the population of the US so in order to perform equally they would have to file 5 times the patents of the US.

Patents per country is as it sounds. GDP doesn't factor into it, nor does population. It's not like the entire population of a country is contributing towards filing patents like the entire working class of a country contributes towards its GDP.

 

If wanting to look at it on some common ground, the report mentions that in 2017 China spent less on technology and science (50.8 trillion yen) compared to the US (55.6 trillion yen), and yet produced more patents.

 

The report says that China produced 49% of tech patents filed in 2017. Japan produced 11%. South Korea produced more than Japan (though what % isn't mentioned) and many other countries also produced patents in 2017. So, that likely leaves less than 25% of 2017's tech patents that the US could have at-most been responsible for. So, while China spent less than the US on tech research in 2017, they still probably produced over twice as many patents as the US did.

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Sorry but I disagree. Population (or GDP) is in fact a very important factor. Let's make a very theoretical example: Two countries which have exactly the same population produce exactly the same number of patents, that would be equal productivity when it comes to the quantity of patents. But what if one country has only half the population yet files the same amount of patents? Surely the smaller country would be much more successful when it comes to their R & D output. Or in other words: In order for China to be as successful as the US it would need to file 5 times the number of patents. Or 180 times the number of patents that Switzerland files. At a population of approximately 1.5 billion (far more than any other country in the world) it's simply normal for them to file a lot of the patents. 1.5 billion, that's double the population of the US, EU an Canada combined. Statistics always need to factor in some sort of proportionality or they are meaningless.

 

A real world example: In January 2020 Switzerland had 194'233 people who wanted to work but didn't have a job (unemployed). At the same time the US had a total of 5.89 million people looking for a job. Now 5.89 compared to 194'233, that's 30 times more unemployed in the US than in Switzerland. What would that make the US, a 30th world country? But if we factor in the population it's a completely different game, the US has a population of roughly 330 million, that's approximately 40 times the population of Switzerland. Now if we take the 194'233 unemployed people of Switzerland times 40 that makes around 7.8 million so there were actually less people unemployed in the US than in Switzerland in January 2020 if measured correctly by the size of their relative population. See how proportionality is the determining factor here?

 

What's more quantity is not even a very good indicator of success when it comes to filed patents. Another example: Let's assume some company of country a files a patent for a new CPU cooler while at the same time someone of country b files a patent for a working, energy efficient and low cost quantum computer (I know that's exaggerated). Both patents count as one but while one is just another mediocre patent the other is revolutionary and probably one of the most valuable patents that have ever been filed.

 

So I stay by my statement, the mentioned statistic is more or less worthless as it misses the proportional factor that would allow people to interpret the numbers. The fact the China files more patents than any other country is nothing extraordinary as it's by far the biggest country (as far as population is concerned).


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how is this quantified? like chinese patents being enforced solely in china, or US companies with subsidiaries in china having enforceable patents in the region and vice-versa?

 

or is there a "central international court" for patents?

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Posted · Original PosterOP
On 2/18/2020 at 8:45 PM, oeci said:

Sorry but I disagree. Population (or GDP) is in fact a very important factor. Let's make a very theoretical example: Two countries which have exactly the same population produce exactly the same number of patents, that would be equal productivity when it comes to the quantity of patents.

It wouldn't unless you knew for a fact that both counties had the same number of people working in fields where they research and develop technology.

 

Since the US spent more on tech investment than did China, either the effort in China is not quite at the level of the effort in the US, or there are as many or more people in China working in relevant fields who are being paid a lot less for their efforts than are those in the US. And if they're being paid and funded less, then they should maybe be expected to show a lower quality and quantity output than those who are being paid more. There are still figures missing to be able to make an assessment of how efficient each country is in their patent output.

 

That's fine to speculate on, but it's also beyond the scope of the report. The report's focus is in showing patents filed per country. That's not a meaningless thing because it shows innovation and that innovation could affect the economies of each country and the dependence of each country's future tech on the others'.

 

Quote

But what if one country has only half the population yet files the same amount of patents? Surely the smaller country would be much more successful when it comes to their R & D output.

Not based on national population, it wouldn't. It would depend on how many people are working in fields where they research and develop technology and how much time and money was spent in research to produce those patents. Other than the R&D investment spent between China and the US (50.8 trillion yen to 55.6 trillion yen), that information isn't provided in the report.

 

Between looking at national population and national spending on tech research, the national spending on tech research is the figure you'd want to base a conclusion on. And if the given R&D spending figures are the only thing to go on, then China produced more than double the number of tech patents for less money than the US spent.

 

You could then convert each country's tech research into purchasing power parity, and that might help the US out a bit, but it won't get the US close to where it's looking more efficient in its raw-number patent output.

 

Quote

Or in other words: In order for China to be as successful as the US it would need to file 5 times the number of patents. Or 180 times the number of patents that Switzerland files. At a population of approximately 1.5 billion (far more than any other country in the world) it's simply normal for them to file a lot of the patents. 1.5 billion, that's double the population of the US, EU an Canada combined. Statistics always need to factor in some sort of proportionality or they are meaningless.

You can also make them meaningless by hinging them on a statistic that is not relevant. For example, you could claim that because the US has a larger land-mass than China and yet produced less than half the number of patents in a given year, that therefore the US isn't as productive with the space that it has. Or that the US has a somewhat comparable amount of natural resources and produced fewer patents. Or that the US has a much higher GDP per capita but produced fewer patents and so produced less while having more. But those rather meaningless associations, just like arbitrarily asserting it comes down to patent output per capita.

 

Money spend on R&D to produce those patents is a much better barometer by which to gauge a country's effectiveness. But that also requires additional calculations like putting everything into purchasing power parity in order to get a helpful picture.

 

Quote

A real world example: In January 2020 Switzerland had 194'233 people who wanted to work but didn't have a job (unemployed). At the same time the US had a total of 5.89 million people looking for a job. Now 5.89 compared to 194'233, that's 30 times more unemployed in the US than in Switzerland. What would that make the US, a 30th world country? But if we factor in the population it's a completely different game, the US has a population of roughly 330 million, that's approximately 40 times the population of Switzerland. Now if we take the 194'233 unemployed people of Switzerland times 40 that makes around 7.8 million so there were actually less people unemployed in the US than in Switzerland in January 2020 if measured correctly by the size of their relative population. See how proportionality is the determining factor here?

There, you're comparing the % of people unemployed to gauge the % of people unemployed in each country. That's a 1:1 comparison.

 

But in your assertion about China and the US' patent output efficiency, you're abstracting using possibly-irrelevant stats (population and GDP) and making an, as far as is shown, baseless association between them and patent output efficiency. Only if you had already established that the same % of people in each country were working in relevant fields and receiving the same amount of funding could you interpolate patents per capita to achieve a useful conclusion.

 

BTW, making assumptions based on population and GDP will deliver entirely separate results, as, while China has a larger population than the US, there is not enough difference between their GDPs to rationalize the US' lower patent output, and China has far less of a GDP per capita than the US - both of which details mean that China is being more effective than the US in patent output. So, using one of your two chosen stats results in the opposite conclusion as using the other does. That should tell you that there is something irrelevant about those stat selections.


The only helpful figure given in the report is the amount each country invested into tech research. And patent yield per investment, China has significantly outproduced the US in number of patents.

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You cannot compare the R & D investments of China and the US 1 : 1 since the salaries, real estate costs etc. are much higher in the US then they are in China. You would have to eliminate the difference in purchasing power between the US and China. Plus as with any high tech research there is definitely a diminishing return on investment meaning the higher the level of tech you reach the less each dollar spent increases your output. In other words: 1 dollar spent on R & D in China is worth much more than 1 dollar spent in the US.

 

But this argument could be going on forever. To me it's simply normal that China files more patents as they have a so much bigger work force. And what do you need to file a patent? Yes you usually need money but first and foremost you need people who innovate. Money does not innovate (but it certainly can leverage innovation), people do. What's more the most important factor in my opinion is still the quality of the patents. And here China has still a lot of catching up to do in my eyes.

 

 

 


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15 hours ago, Delicieuxz said:

Japanese company Nikkei has released a presentation of showing which countries have filed the most technological patents from per year, from 2000 up to 2017, separating the patents into the 10 categories of:

 

Conductive polymers

Drones

Lithium-ion batteries

Virtual reality

Cyber security

Blockchain

Autonomous driving

Regenerative medicine

Quantum computing

AI

 

Report overview: China beats US in key patents to secure technological dominance – report

 

Report presentation: Patent Wars in Digital Era

 

 

 

668573634_Nikkeireportonpatents-2017.png.e69cfecf6d878d7cc2dce7a56e34d63b.png

 

 

The presentation depicts Japan as leading the charge from 2000 - 2003, before the US was dominant from 2004 - 2011. Then, in 2012, China and the US were about tied, and then China become increasingly dominant from 2012 - 2017.

 

In 2017, the most tech patents were filed by China, then the US, South Korea, Japan, Germany. And 49% of all tech patents filed that year were filed by China.

 

Interestingly, China's representation in the rankings is shown to have increased very steadily year over year from 2000 until 2017, by which point China was absolutely dominant, having filed the most patents for the year in 9 out of the 10 tech categories, with the US having filed the most patents relating to quantum computing.

 

 

It was news to me that China has been so dominant in tech patents because of all the noise I've often heard online about China not being very innovative itself, but relying on stealing US and other countries' tech. Yet their patent filings trend offers a different picture.

 

And China's government sounds like it's fed-up with being accused of stealing US tech, as China's ministry of foreign affairs reportedly has, fiercely, just thrown the US' accusations of China spying, hacking, and technology theft back at it, by charging that the US government has "conducted large-scale, organized and indiscriminate cyber theft, tapping and surveillance on foreign governments, businesses and individuals, a fact already well-known to all", adding that "Facts have proven time and again that as the largest state actor of espionage in the cyber space, the US is worthy of the name of 'Empire of Hackers' ", and that the US has "no credibility" on the subject of hacking because it “keeps playing the victim of cyberattacks, like a thief crying ‘stop thief’!”

The argument seems to be 

from the US:”you’re breaking into and stealing large amounts of corporate research we spent huge amounts of money to develop now”

from China “you broke into and stole large amounts of military data back during the Cold War”

 

One is about current costs, the other is about historical military.  They’re not really the same.


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The irony of this is not lost on me and I am finding it quite hilarious.

 

But yeah didn't expect to see Canada up there. Part of my humble Canadian nature, perhaps. 

 

 

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18 minutes ago, TigerHawk said:

The irony of this is not lost on me and I am finding it quite hilarious.

 

But yeah didn't expect to see Canada up there. Part of my humble Canadian nature, perhaps. 

 

 

I expected to see more Israel up there than I did.  One of the issues seen in Israel lately is a gigantic patent boom far larger per capita than almost anywhere else.  A lot of it comes from Russian racism where highly trained Jewish scientists were simultaneously forced out of Russia while being lured to Israel, but some of it was was Israeli companies cherry picking promising research done by American academia.  US citizens spent the vast amounts money to do the research, and the stuff that worked was sucked out of the country that paid for it and into a country that didn’t.  A monkeys chunk situation.  Research is mostly failure.  The few successes are gigantic enough though to pay for all the failure.  Both China and Israel seem to have developed a habit of pulling the successes out of America leaving them with the cost but taking the successes for themselves.


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When a bunch of countries' flags are listed on a graphic and you see a Canadian flag.

 


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3 minutes ago, Techstorm970 said:

When a bunch of countries' flags are listed on a graphic and you see a Canadian flag.

 

Canada actually has a pretty good record for successful research and development.  Highlights that come to mind to me as an american include the Windsor v8 engine, Delta wing fighter aircraft in general, more than one anti ballistic  missile, and super gun technology (that one may not be a highlight so much)

 

Its a highly educated nation with a good research system that has a lot to contribute to world knowledge.


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Posted · Original PosterOP
On 2/19/2020 at 4:16 AM, oeci said:

You cannot compare the R & D investments of China and the US 1 : 1 since the salaries, real estate costs etc. are much higher in the US then they are in China. You would have to eliminate the difference in purchasing power between the US and China.

You can compare them but it won't give the full picture. Yet, even without doing that, comparing the R&D investment and returns is vastly more pertinent that comparing patents per capita, which has no immediately-apparent significance. So, if you don't consider the comparison of investment amounts valid without getting to the level of detail where the value of money is balanced across economies, then there's nothing to be deduced from patents filed per national population, because that is an infinitesimally more meaningless and less accurate statistic.

 

But as I said:

On 2/19/2020 at 3:14 AM, Delicieuxz said:

Between looking at national population and national spending on tech research, the national spending on tech research is the figure you'd want to base a conclusion on. And if the given R&D spending figures are the only thing to go on, then China produced more than double the number of tech patents for less money than the US spent.

 

You could then convert each country's tech research into purchasing power parity, and that might help the US out a bit, but it won't get the US close to where it's looking more efficient in its raw-number patent output.

 

...

 

Money spend on R&D to produce those patents is a much better barometer by which to gauge a country's effectiveness. But that also requires additional calculations like putting everything into purchasing power parity in order to get a helpful picture.

 

Even after adjusting for PPP, China's still ends up having filed more patents than the US per their reported investment into technology:

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(nominal)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(PPP)

 

China's nominal GDP for 2017: $12.23 trillion

China's PPP GDP for 2017: $23.3 trillion

In 2017, China's PPP GDP was 1.9 times their nominal GDP.

 

China's 2017 tech research spending of 50.8 trillion yen multiplied by 1.9 results in China's 2017 tech spending being equal to 96.52 trillion yen, when adjusted for purchasing power parity.

 

For 96.52 trillion yen, China filed 49% of all tech patents in 2017.

For 55.6 trillion yen, the US filed, using the most generous possible guess, 25% of all tech patents in 2017.

 

For every trillion yen (adjusted for PPP) which China spent on tech research in 2017, China filed 0.507% of 2017's tech patents.

For every trillion yen which the US spent on tech research in 2017, the US filed 0.449% of 2017's tech patents.

 

So, on a completely equal scale of spending, China still out-performed the US in efficiency regarding money spent and tech patents filed. But keep in mind that the 25% of 2017's tech patents I used to grant the US for the sake of this calculation is an extremely implausible figure.

 

That 25% figure assumes, based on the report that Japan filed 11% of 2017's tech patents, that South Korea, which filed more tech patents in 2017 than Japan, filed only 12% of 2017's tech patents, and that all other countries in the report and in the world collectively accounted for only 2% of all tech patents filed in 2017. That is extremely assumptive and unrealistic.

 

Maybe the US accounted for only 15% of the tech patents filed in 2017, in which case, for every trillion yen which the US spent on tech research in 2017, the US filed 0.269% of 2017's tech patents, compared to China's 0.507% per trillion yen spent.

 

 

So, the end result is that China greatly exceeded the US not just in regards of number of tech patents filed in 2017, but also in number of patents filed per monetary investment adjusted for PPP.

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52 minutes ago, Bombastinator said:

Canada actually has a pretty good record for successful research and development.  Highlights that come to mind to me as an american include the Windsor v8 engine, Delta wing fighter aircraft in general, more than one anti ballistic  missile, and super gun technology (that one may not be a highlight so much)

 

Its a highly educated nation with a good research system that has a lot to contribute to world knowledge.

Speaking of which, have you ever stepped back and thought about how many first-world countries have come out of the former British Empire?  It's some crazy shit...


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As someone who knows people who have patented quite a few things in the medical device industry I would say number of patents is a pretty crap way of indicating innovation. You can make small changes to existing designs and patent them but I would hardly call that innovation. How many ground breaking technologies has China come out with during the this time period? How many ground breaking technologies has the US come out with during this time period? That would be a more interesting metric. 

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37 minutes ago, Brooksie359 said:

As someone who knows people who have patented quite a few things in the medical device industry I would say number of patents is a pretty crap way of indicating innovation. You can make small changes to existing designs and patent them but I would hardly call that innovation. How many ground breaking technologies has China come out with during the this time period? How many ground breaking technologies has the US come out with during this time period? That would be a more interesting metric. 

The medical device industry is particularly ugly that way.  They also take some abusive of intent, nasty, dangerous shortcuts with testing approval as that joint replacement thing showed.  That rule was put in to fast track critical drugs not any old medical device.  Using it for such is a fundamental abuse.  “My patent is fundamentally the same as this one so i don’t need testing “ Is one thing but follow that telephone line for several generations and one winds up with something fundamentally different from that which was tested, and people die.


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On 2/18/2020 at 4:56 PM, Xiee said:

Looks like China has been very busy stealing trade secrets.

Joking aside, I didn't expect Canada to be up there.

They are done with mostly stealing they have everything to surpass now.

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