GENEVA (AP) — China and South Korea continued their steady climb up the ranks of the world's leading inventors in 2007, according to figures released Thursday by the U.N. patent agency.
Of the 156,000 international patents filed through the World Intellectual Property Organization last year, some 7,000 originated in South Korea and almost 5,500 came from China.
The numbers put the two countries far behind the United States, which maintained its top position for international patents with about 52,000 registrations.
But South Korea overtook France to come fourth behind Germany (27,731) and Japan (18,134) on the patent ladder.
China (5,456) saw its filings jump by almost 40 percent in one year and came seventh — ahead of the Netherlands (4,186) and within striking distance of Britain (5,553), according to WIPO.
''The growth in patent filings by a number of countries in north east Asia and their share of overall patenting activity is impressive and confirms shifting patterns of innovation around the world,'' said Kamil Idris, director-general of the Geneva-based agency.
WIPO has said filings in China and South Korea are becoming more popular because local and foreign companies seek to exploit the potential of new technologies in those regions.
For a flat fee of about US$1,300 (euro890) companies can file a request for patent protection in any or all of the 136 countries that have subscribed to WIPO's Patent Cooperation Treaty, avoiding the need to make individual filings in each country.
Japan's Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. was the international corporation that filed the most PCT applications, with 2,100. It was followed by Dutch manufacturer Royal Philips Electronics NV with 2,041; Siemens AG of Germany with 1,644 and China's Huawei Technologies, which moved up nine ranks to fourth increasing its applications by almost two thirds last year.