Although China is not the primary leader in chip and semiconductor development and production worldwide, its microelectronics industry is experiencing impressive growth, particularly in terms of filing patent applications.
According to a report by Mathys & Squire, a law firm specializing in intellectual property, Chinese companies filed more than 50% of all the semiconductor-related patent applications submitted worldwide in the past year.
According to Edd Cavanna, the Managing Associate at Mathys & Squire, there is a fierce race between the U.S., China, and the E.U. to become leaders in the semiconductor industry, highlighting its significance for the global economy.
This is further supported by a record-breaking number of patent filings related to microelectronics in 2022, amounting to 69,190, which is a remarkable 59% increase from five years ago when only 43,380 patents were filed. The significant rise in patent applications is a clear indication of the fast-paced development of the microelectronics industry and its widespread impact on modern-day life.
Mathys & Squire’s findings reveal that Chinese firms were in the lead with respect to patent applications submitted, accounting for 55% of all semiconductor-related patents worldwide, as per their report. The U.S. trailed behind with 26% of the filings, while the U.K. contributed just 179 patents, making up a small fraction of 0.26%.
In terms of individual patent filers, TSMC emerged on top with 4,793 patents, making up 7% of all semiconductor-related patents filed globally. Applied Materials submitted 209 patents, which is more than the total number of patents filed by all companies based in the UK combined. SanDisk filed 50 patents, while IBM submitted 49 patents.
It should be acknowledged that the report from Mathys & Squire solely concentrates on the number of patents filed. However, while the quantity is essential, the quality and content of the patents are of equal importance. Although it is difficult to analyze the importance of tens of thousands of patents, the fact that so many patents are being filed highlights the rapid progress taking place in the microelectronics field.
Edd Cavanna, who is the Managing Associate at Mathys & Squire, has stated that governments all around the world are growing more concerned about the vulnerability of global supply chains. As a result, they are taking steps to strengthen their own domestic semiconductor research and production capabilities. Patents are expected to play a crucial role in protecting new technologies from competition on a global scale and are likely to face strict enforcement measures.
In 2022, the quantity of patents related to microelectronics reached an unprecedented level, having grown substantially by 59% from 43,380 patents filed five years earlier. The total number of patent applications filed in 2022 was 69,190, indicating a significant surge in the microelectronics industry’s growth. This significant increase underscores the substantial impact that chips have on all aspects of modern life and demonstrates the industry’s rapid and noteworthy progress.
Chinese companies held the majority share of patent applications, accounting for 55% of all worldwide applications with 18,223 filings. In contrast, American companies submitted 26% fewer applications, ranking them second. Conversely, according to Mathys & Squire, the U.K. contributed 179 patents, representing only 0.26% of the global total.
TSMC led the way with 4,793 patents, or 7% of all semiconductor-related patents globally. Meanwhile, SanDisk, IBM, and Applied Materials submitted 49, 50, and 209 patents, respectively, with the latter exceeding the combined total of all UK-based companies.
It’s worth noting that Mathys & Squire’s report only presents the number of patents filed, while the actual content of these patents is much more critical. Unfortunately, assessing the significance of tens of thousands of patents is challenging. Nevertheless, the quantity of patent applications filed indicates the rapid growth of the microelectronics industry.
It is not possible to evaluate the importance of numerous patents. Nevertheless, the number of patent applications filed is indicative of the rapid growth of the microelectronics sector. Edd Cavanna stated that governments are increasingly anxious about the frailty of global supply chains and are therefore implementing measures to promote semiconductor research and domestic production.
As a result, patents will play a crucial role in protecting new technologies that may emerge from this global race for technological superiority. The enforcement of patents is expected to be strict to safeguard these emerging technologies.