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The State of Intellectual Property Around the World

Megan Garber

The United Nations's globe-spanning, definitive guide.

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Economies are slowing across the globe. But inventors across the globe apparently didn't get that memo. Patent filings and grants have exploded in the past few years -- fueled, in particular, by innovations coming out of, and into, China. And fueled, as well, by new fields -- computer technologies, communications platforms -- that invite inventors to make their marks on them.

A new report from the World Intellectual Property Organization -- the IP arm of the United Nations -- has documented that proliferation of patents (and trademarks, and industrial designs) as it's played out on the world stage. And their findings are pretty staggering. The study tracks data as of  2011, detailing IP trends on a worldwide, and country-by-country, basis. And while the report lends itself to a major headline -- that China's patent office has ousted the United States's as the world's largest -- the real story here is the fact that innovation, overall and officially, is on the rise. Around the world. 

"Sustained growth in IP filings indicates that companies continue to innovate despite weak economic conditions," WIPO Director General Francis Gurry put it in a press conference. "This is good news, as it lays the foundation for the world economy to generate growth and prosperity in the future." 

The report itself is long and wonky. But it's full of juicy stats. So here, below, are some of the juiciest. The current state of intellectual property, around the world and by the numbers:





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