The Rapid Growth in Chinese Semiconductor Patents

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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.)
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).
 

2015 Top Chinese Semiconductor Patent Grant Recipients  
公司 Company / Organization Location 2015 Chinese Semiconductor
Patent Grants
SMIC
中芯国际
Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) (Shanghai) Shanghai 1973
鸿海 FOXCONN TECH CO LTD Taiwan 727
HHGrace
华虹宏力
Shanghai Huahong Grace Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation Shanghai 700
IMECAS
中国科学院微电子研究所
Institute of Microelectronics of Chinese Academy of Sciences Beijing 465
BOE
京东方科技
BOE Technology Group Beijing 462
清华大学 Tsinghua University Tsinghua 382
HLMC
华力微电子
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
北京大学 UNIV BEIJING  Beijing 239
AUO
友达
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.  

How this data was produced

This data was compiled using a test version of the CLAIMS Direct Web Interface (CDWI).  CDWI allows for deep exploration of the CLAIMS Direct patent corpus and makes it easy to create summary reports by leveraging Solr faceting. The interface allows access to the full range of Solr search functionality including a “more like this” function. Using CDWI and the CLAIMS Diredct patent API, clients can easily integrate rich patent analytics into their applications and enterprise workflows. CDWI is currently available as a Beta and will be released into production to CLAIMS Direct subscribers shortly.
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