69,000 patents related to semiconductors were filed in the 2021/22

55% of global patents in 2021/22 were Chinese in origin 

UK lags behind other nations with just 0.26% of patents filed in the last year

There have been a record 69,190 global patents for semiconductors filed in the past year*, up 59% from 43,380 five years ago and 9% more than the 62,770 filed in 2020/21, shows new research by Mathys & Squire, the leading intellectual property law firm.

R&D in the semiconductor industry has underpinned the growth in technology and the intense competition within the sector has ensured that innovation continues at a fierce pace.

The global semiconductor industry is forecast to be worth $1 trillion by the end of this decade – up from $590 billion in 2021**.

US giants Intel and AMD have been locked in a years-long rivalry to dominate market share within computers by designing ever faster, higher-capacity processors. Meanwhile companies such as Cambridge-based Arm have targeted semiconductor design for mobile devices. Such intense commercial rivalries often lead to the active filing and enforcement of patents.

By 2030, the automotive sector is predicted to make-up 15% of global demand for semiconductors, up from 8% in 2021***. Another key area of growth is the ‘Internet of Things’, including everything from wearable tech to smart homes and even smart cities.

As rising geopolitical tensions have led to trade barriers for key technologies, Governments have taken steps to secure their access to semiconductors.

Last year, the US Congress passed the CHIPS and Science Act, which allocated $280 billion to promote the research and manufacture of semiconductors in the United States. The European Union is currently considering a European Chips Act in order to boost Europe’s semiconductor industry.

As the growth of domestic semiconductor industries becomes a feature of more countries’ industrial policies, we can expect new patent filings to continue as businesses seek to protect and monetise their technological advances.

China filed 55% of global semiconductor patents in the past year

In 2021-22, 55% of semiconductor patents (37,865) were Chinese in origin. China has placed a major focus on boosting domestic semiconductor production in order to reduce dependence on western technologies.

The largest individual filer in 2021/22 was semiconductor giant Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) Limited, which was responsible for 4,793 patents – 7% of all patents worldwide.

18,223 of the patents filed in the last year (26% of the total) were filed in the United States. The top US filer was California-based Applied Materials Inc, with 209 patents, followed by SanDisk (50 patents) and IBM (49 patents).

In contrast, the UK accounted for only 179 patents, just 0.26% of the global total.

Edd Cavanna, Managing Associate at Mathys & Squire, says: “Governments are increasingly concerned about the fragility of global supply chains and are taking steps to promote semiconductor research and production domestically. New technologies which emerge from this global technology race will be protected by patents which are likely to be fiercely enforced.”

“Global powers such as the US, China and the EU are competing to be leaders in semiconductor technology. That says it all regarding their importance for the future of the economy.”

“However, the UK lags behind other parts of the world in developing semiconductor technology. The UK Government may wish to consider whether current funding structures provide enough support to research and development in this vital field.”

Global semiconductor patents filed increased in last year

semiconductor patents

*Year end September 30 2022, Source: World Intellectual Property Organization

**Source: McKinsey

***Source: McKinsey


mathys & squireAbout Mathys & Squire

Founded in 1910, Mathys & Squire is one of the leading full-service intellectual property law firms in Europe, with over 110 years of experience in the protection and commercialisation of IP rights.

The firm has more than 60 qualified attorneys and offices in London, Paris, Munich, Luxembourg, Cambridge, Oxford, Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle and York as well as teams based in China, Japan and Belfast.

Mathys & Squire is highly ranked in leading legal and IP directories, including The Legal 500, Chambers UK, IAM Patent 1000 and WTR1000.


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