ZTE Corporation was ranked No.1 by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) for the total number of international patent applications filed in 2012. This is the second consecutive year the company has achieved top position in the annual gauge of the world’s most prolific innovators.
According to WIPO’s data, ZTE filed applications for 3,906 patents under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) in 2012, 37 percent more than a year earlier, making it the first company from China to top the table for two successive years. ZTE’s patent applications in 2012 were more than double the total number of applications made by Huawei Technologies (1801), and greatly exceeded those of other companies in the telecommunications equipment industry such as Ericsson (1197), Nokia Siemens (326) and Alcatel-Lucent (346). Japan’s Panasonic, ranked second by WIPO, filed for 2951 patents, almost one thousand fewer than ZTE.
ZTE’s PCT filings in 2012 were 37 percent more than the previous year, according to the data from WIPO. In 2011, ZTE was also ranked top by WIPO with a total of 2,826 filings. At the end of 2012, ZTE had filed applications for more than 11,000 PCTs, covering markets including the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Germany. More than 60percent of ZTE’s filings were related to new technologies such as 4G/LTE, cloud-computing, the Internet of Things, and smart devices.
“It is a landmark achievement for ZTE, which is a standard-bearer for Chinese companies with international operations and a culture of innovation,” said Mr. Zhao Tianwu, Director of Intellectual Property Centre at the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. “Despite facing pressure in its operations last year, ZTE’s unwavering commitment to research and development shows the company’s courage. We need to foster more Chinese ICT companies to emulate ZTE, and collectively accelerate China’s development as an innovative nation.”
“In the past two years, ZTE experienced explosive growth in PCT filings,” said Mr. Guo Xiaoming, Chief Legal Officer at ZTE. “As a relative late-starter, we still have a lot of room to improve in our intellectual property strategy. The tremendous growth in ZTE’s patent applications has been important in safeguarding the development of our operations in Europe and North America.”
It generally takes between two to three years for patents to be granted after applications are filed, and the cost for each patent is over RMB100,000. A company’s portfolio of PCTs represents its most valuable intellectual property. By 2015, it is expected that thousands of ZTE’s PCTs will be granted in Europe and North America. ZTE’s portfolio of PCTs has become a powerful resource as the company’s international operations grow.
Following its international counterparts, ZTE is set to explore avenues such as patent pools and licensing to generate increased value from its rich portfolio of domestic and international patent assets. The company will work with intellectual property exchanges, intermediaries and industry organisations to promote healthy competition and development in the sector.
ZTE has a long-held commitment to technology innovation, devoting 10 percent of its annual revenue to research and development each year. In the face of pressure in its business operations, ZTE nevertheless increased its R&D spending by 3 percent to 9 billion RMB last year. In the past four years, ZTE has committed more than 30 billion RMB on R&D. At present, ZTE has 18 R&D centres globally, employing more than 50,000 engineers and technical staff. ZTE has also set up innovation facilities jointly with internationally leading telecommunications operators to further strengthen its R&D resources.