The FRED graph above shows total U.S. patents granted originating from China and Germany from 1992 through 2020, indexed to 100 in 1992.
Germany has long been the most innovative European country in terms of U.S. patents granted, and their total has steadily increased, by 152%, from 1992 to 2020. What’s interesting is how quickly China has closed the gap and even surpassed Germany in patents since joining the WTO on December 11, 2001. As part of their entry to the WTO, China agreed to the basic Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) provisions protecting intellectual property rights.
In 2001, the U.S. granted 11,894 patents to German inventors, while granting only 266 to Chinese inventors. Over the next 19 years, as of 2020, U.S. patents granted to Germans increased 38% to just over 19,000 and U.S. patents granted to Chinese inventors increased nearly 10,000% to nearly 27,000.
While it’s easier to apply for a patent than to be granted one, so the exponential growth in the number of patents actually granted shows a dramatic improvement in the amount and quality of patents from China. This shift coincides with a push for China to improve their intellectual property rights both domestically and internationally.
How this graph was created: Search for “Granted Patents” and select “U.S. Granted Patents: Total Patents Originating in China”. From the “Edit Graph” panel, use the “Edit Line 1” tab to change the “Units” measurement to “Index (Scale value to 100 for chosen date).” Directly below this option, use the second box to change the indexed date to “1992-01-01.” Next, use the “Add Line” tab to search for and select “U.S. Granted Patents: Total Patents Originating in Germany.” Use the “Edit Line 2” tab to change the “Units” measurement to “Index (Scale value to 100 for chosen date).” Directly below this option, use the second box to change the indexed date to “1992-01-01.” Finally, use the “Format” tab to check the box next to “Log scale.”