Japan, the United States, Germany, France, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Korea continue to drive innovations in three high-growth technologies: 3D printing, nanotechnology and robotics, according to the latest World Intellectual Property Report (WIPR). In fact, these six countries account for 75 percent of all-time patent filings in these industries, with China making significant headway.
The report also concluded that innovators in these six countries “overwhelmingly sought patent protection for their inventions in high-income countries plus China, reflecting the large size of these countries’ markets, as well as the presence of competitors with frontier technological capabilities.”
The report highlights case studies on these new innovations (ie 3D printing, nanotechnology and robotics) as well as historic ones such as airplanes, antibiotics and semiconductors, with history showing how these previous game-changing advancements sparked economic growth and new business activity.
According to WIPO Director General Francis Gurry, “Historical technological breakthroughs have been at the root of long-lasting expansions in economic output. Successful innovation, at the company level or across the wider economy, requires perseverance, particularly in periods of anemic growth when innovation budgets are under pressure. We need to reinforce the environments that give rise to the breakthrough technologies of tomorrow.”
Consider these findings related to the most recent transformative technologies:
- Robotics: Companies in Japan are leading innovation in robotics, with eight out of the top ten patent applicants. These include Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Denso, Hitachi, Panasonic, Yaskawa, and Sony. The two others are Bosch, from Germany, and Samsung of the Republic of Korea.
- Nanotechnology: Samsung of the Republic of Korea is the top filer for nanotechnology patents, but U.S. entities file collectively for most patents in this space. Six of the top ten filers are from Japan – Nippon Steel, Toshiba, Canon, Hitachi, Panasonic and TDK. IBM, the University of California, and Hewlett Packard of the U.S. complete the top 10 list.
- 3D printing:S. entities also file for the most 3D printing patents, with 3D Systems and Stratasys as the top two applicants and General Electric and United Technologies among the top ten. Three German companies – Siemens, MTU Aero Engines and EOS – as well as three Japanese companies – Mitsubishi, Hitachi, and Toshiba – complete the top 10 list.
Interestingly, Chinese applicants account for more than a quarter of patents worldwide in the area of 3D printing and robotics, which is the highest share among all countries. In nanotechnology, applicants from China comprise close to 15 percent of filings worldwide, the third largest origin of patents.