March 22, 2015 Updated: March 22, 2015

Chinese telecom giant Huawei led international patent filings in 2014, as the total number of patent applications filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty reached a record high 214,500. According to the World Intellectual Property Organization, Huawei applied for 3,442 patents, edging out U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm and Chinese competitor ZTE with 2,409 and 2,179 applications, respectively.

With 61,492 patent applications, the United States was the primary origin of patent applicants ahead of Japan (42,459) and China (25,539).

The Patent Cooperation Treaty was concluded in 1970 and went into force in 1978. Its aim is to facilitate the acquisition of patents in multiple regions at once, making the filing of multiple national patent applications obsolete.

However, the decision to grant patents remains the prerogative of the national patent offices of the 148 member states and patent rights are limited to the regions where the patent has been granted.