The number of Chinese semiconductor patents grew rapidly in 2015 compared to 2014. IFI CLAIMS has found that the number of Chinese semiconductor patent grants jumped by 88%. IFI CLAIMS looked at patents granted by the Chinese Patent Office for patent applications with Chinese priority. Focusing on applications with Chinese priority emphasizes technology developed in China. IFI used the international Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) and International Patent Classification (IPC) code H01L, which covers semiconductors. In 2015, there were 6,297 H01L Chinese grants compared to 3,350 in 2014.
The rapid growth of the Chinese semiconductor industry has received significant attention in the press recently. For example, see “Chips on their Shoulders – China want to become a superpower in semiconductors, and plans to spend colossal sums to achieve this” from The Economist. And “Concern Grows in U.S Over China’s Drive to Make Chips” from the New York Times. Are these concerns justified?
For perspective, the figure below shows 2014 and 2015 Semiconductor grants for the US and China*. China is clearly growing rapidly, but still trails the United States. Growth in the US is barely positive at 0.5%.
(*US utility grants with CPC or IPC H01L and US priority. Chinese patent grants (not including Utility Models) with CPC or IPC H01L and with Chinese priority.)
Looking at Chinese Semiconductor Patent Applications, IFI found that China's rapid growth in semiconductor patents may be short lived. The figure below shows Chinese semiconductor patent applications (Blue) and patent grants (Orange) for the last five years.
Which Chinese companies received the most patents in 2015? The list below shows the Top 10 Chinese patent recipients in CPC H01L (Chinese grants, Chinese priority).
|公司||Company / Organization||Location||
2015 Chinese Semiconductor
|Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) (Shanghai)||Shanghai||1973|
|鸿海||FOXCONN TECH CO LTD||Taiwan||727|
|Shanghai Huahong Grace Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation||Shanghai||700|
|Institute of Microelectronics of Chinese Academy of Sciences||Beijing||465|
|BOE Technology Group||Beijing||462|
|Shanghai Huali Microelectronics Corp.||Shanghai||348|
|中国科学院上海微系统与信息技术研究所||Shanghai Institute of Microsystem and Information Technology (CAS)||Shanghai||248|
|AU Optronics Corp||Taiwan||223|
The table above shows a combination of private Chinese and Taiwanese companies, Universities and Government agencies (Chinese Academy of Science) actively involved in semiconductor research and development. Over the coming years, these companies will become increasingly important in the semiconductor industry.