DPMA Annual Report 2021: China ever more innovative in digital technologies

Analysis of digitisation shows a marked increase in Chinese patent applications – DPMA President: China is making progress with its plan to gain technology leadership – Annual Report contains technology and trade mark trends – New digital version offers additional functions and particular user-friendliness on mobile devices

Press release of June 2, 2022

Munich. China has considerably strengthened its position as one of the leading economies for digital technologies on the German market. In almost all important fields of technology relating to digitisation, the number of published Chinese patent applications effective in Germany increased significantly in 2021 compared to the previous year. In the future-proof field of digital communication, which includes inventions related to the new 5G technology, China, with 4,308 applications (+6.8%), overtook even the United States, from where 4,115 applications were filed (-2.4%).

While, in four out of five technology fields under consideration, German applicants were among the top five nations on the German market, they were among the top three nations in only two technology fields. This was the result of an analysis conducted by the German Patent and Trade Mark Office (DPMA) for its Annual Report 2021. The report is available from today on the DPMA's website at Our analysis considered published patent applications in the aforementioned technology fields with effect in Germany that had been filed with the DPMA and the European Patent Office (no double counting). Patent applications are published after 18 months. This means that inventions newly filed in 2021 are not yet included.

"As far as Germany is concerned, there are strengths and weaknesses. The number of innovations increases in some fields, but Germany falls behind or is not among the leading nations in other fields," said DPMA President Cornelia Rudloff-Schäffer. She added: "However, the Chinese innovative dynamism has been immense in the past years. China is obviously making progress with its plan to gain technology leadership in key future technologies. It remains to be seen what impact the Chinese COVID-19 strategy will have on the economy and innovation."

Exciting stories from Otto Lilienthal to Micky Mouse

In addition to current technology trends, the DPMA Annual Report 2021 again contains a large number of statistics – e.g. the German Länder rankings for the IP areas and the rankings of the top companies in terms of applications. Furthermore, the Annual Report offers exciting stories – about flight pioneer Otto Lilienthal on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of his death and about trade marks concerning Micky Mouse, which also became known in Germany through the first German print edition 70 years ago.

New digital version: reader-friendly, multimedia-based, optimised for mobile devices

This year’s Annual Report is the first the DPMA provides in a particularly user-friendly HTML version upon publication. This new way to provide information digitally combines high-quality content with modern, multimedia-based elements. A digital table of contents navigates readers through the pages. Picture galleries give additional insight and new functions make charts even more clearer. Particularly clear are the advantages of the new digital version if accessed via smartphone or tablet, thanks to a good responsive design. If you wish to download the Annual Report 2021 as usual, a PDF version is still available on our website too. A paper version of the report will be available from the Press and Public Relations office from mid-June.

Reading the report is definitely worth it!

The German Patent and Trade Mark Office

Inventiveness and creativity need effective protection. The DPMA is the German centre of expertise for all intellectual property rights – patents, utility models, trade marks and designs. As the largest national patent office in Europe and the fifth largest national patent office in the world, our office stands for the future of Germany as a country of inventors in a globalised economy. Its staff of just under 2,800 at three locations – Munich, Jena and Berlin – provide services to inventors and companies. They implement federal innovation strategies and develop the national, European and international IP systems further.

Picture: DPMA

Last updated: 2 June 2022