Chinese Universities Comprise 13% of Top 100 Academic Institutions Receiving U.S. Patent Grants

Many of China’s patents are generated by universities as opposed to businesses. In a socialist republic run by a single party that effectively means they are owned by the state.

This includes global patents where many of China’s leading universities are active U.S. filers.

A recently issued report identifying the top 100 universities receiving U.S. patents in 2020, shows that Chinese academic institutions account for 13 of the recipients, more than any nation outside of the U.S.

In terms of grant volume, according to the research conducted by the Intellectual Property Owners Association and the National Academy of Inventors, China lags the leading U.S. university systems, including the University of California, MIT and Stanford, with 587, 383 and 229 grants respectively.

The leading Chinese university for U.S. patents in 2020 was Tsinghua University, with 155, number 9 on the list, just behind the California Institute of Technology and ahead of Harvard.

Tsinghua is the only foreign university in the top ten, and the only Asian University in the top 25. Businesses like Samsung (Korea), Toyota (Japan) and Huawei (China) have been active U.S. filers for some time.

Others on the top 100 list of grantees include Hanyang University, Tsing Hua University and Jiangnan University, with 76, 63 and 57 respectively.

Ownership of University Patents

The separation between state-owned, university and business-secured IP rights is, as you might expect, not as well-defined in China as in other parts of the world.

The corresponding institutions on the list are 9, 32, 38, 46, 54, 70, 79 (Hong Kong) 86, 87, 91, 94 (twice because of a tie), and 98 (Taiwan).

China has provided more than a billion dollars in research support to American universities since 2013, with Harvard receiving the largest amount, according to a report in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

According to NPR the U.S. Education Department says since July of last year “its enforcement efforts have triggered the reporting of about $6.5 billion in previously undisclosed foreign money [to American universities].”

It would be curious to see how many U.S. universities on the top 100 list hold Chinese patents and the number.

For the full list of universities receiving U.S. patents in 2020, go here.

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