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GENEVA: A record number of international patents were filed last year, indicating that innovation had not been stymied by the pandemic, the United Nations said Thursday.

Even as Covid-19 took a vast human and economic toll, international patent applications continued to grow, with Asia, and China in particular, cementing their leading positions.

A record 277,500 international patents were filed in 2021, marking a 0.9-percent increase from 2020, the UN’s World Intellectual Property Organisation said in its annual overview.

“These figures show that human ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit remain strong despite the disruptions caused by the pandemic.” WIPO Director-General Daren Tang said in a statement. Last year marked the 12th consecutive year of growth in international patent filings.

Global patent filings surged to record high in 2021: UN

WIPO’s chief economist Carsten Fink highlighted how remarkable it was that “international patent filings continued to grow in 2020 and 2021 as the global pandemic unfolded and upended economies around the world.”

“This experience is notably different compared to previous economic crises,” he told reporters, pointing to how international patent filings fell during the global financial crisis in 2009. WIPO’s complex system of registering international patents involves multiple categories, including global trademarks and design filing systems.

In the main category — the Patent Cooperation Treaty, or PCT — China remained at the top of the rankings with 69,540 filings.

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