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China dominates transport fuel-cell patents

China dominates transport fuel-cell patents

China dominates transport fuel-cell patents


The rise of Chinese companies in the field of fuel-cell transport technology has been highlighted in a report by UN agency the World Intellectual Property Organization (Wipo).

The Geneva-based body said 69% of the patent applications related to hydrogen fuel cells came from China. That contrasted with the picture eight years earlier, when China was the fifth-largest source of innovative proposals in the field.

Companies in Japan hold the largest number of existing patents for transport-related fuel-cell tech, followed by businesses in the United States, South Korea, and Germany. But the authors of the Wipo report published last week suggested Chinese companies will overtake them, based on the number of patents emerging from the nation.

The study concerned patent numbers submitted between 2016 and 2020, a period which saw a 23.4% rise in patent applications for technology to generate electricity for transport from hydrogen and oxygen. Road transport was by far the largest application for the patents submitted, although there has been a rapid rise in innovation for specialist uses such as construction vehicles, forklifts, and airport tugs, Wipo stated.

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Japan was the second-largest source of patents in 2020, the UN body added, with the 1,186 submissions from that nation amounting to 11.3% of the total. Some 6.2% of the year's applications came from Germany, 5.6% were from South Korea, and the 403 filed in the United States added up to 3.8%. This means the rest of the world supplied 4.4%.

Companies submitted almost eight out of 10 of the patents filed in 2020, Wipo said, with the top 30 businesses accounting for 40% of the year's patents. There was only one non-commercial originator among the top 30: the Chinese Academy of Sciences, an entity under the State Council of China.

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