The United States granted the most patents for quantum computing over the last decade from 2011 to 2020 reflecting both its strength as a research hub and a consumer of emerging technologies.
With 1,096 patents granted between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2020, the United States emerges as the top patent office in the quantum computing arena. China and Japan with 384 and 305 patents rank the next most busy patent offices in this space.
Elliott Mason, a patent agent at the law firm US law firm, Young Basile, reports these figures in a blog for the Quantum Economic Development Consortium (QED-C), a consortium of stakeholders that aims to enable and grow the U.S. quantum industry.
This consortium, QED-C came into existence with the support of the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Several agencies and a diverse set of industry, academic, and other stakeholders now constitute its members.
A search for all entities with patents related to quantum computing over this decade points to an interesting trend when split into 20 ranks. Apart from the top 19 recipients with the highest patents against their names, Mason clubs the remaining entities with lower number of patents into an ‘Other’ category. Collectively, this ‘Other’ group has received more than half of the total patents since 2012.
In terms of applications filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) which are akin to global filings across almost 150 countries, there was a spike in patent filings from 2015 onwards as countries and companies joined the quantum race in earnest.
This spike became obvious from 2017 onwards as there is a window of 18 months between the filing and publication of patent applications. Though the ‘Other’ category gets the maximum number of PCT applications (452) between 2011-2020, IBM (115) and Intel Corporation (106) are the only two entities with over 100 PCT patent applications related to quantum computing over the last decade.
The public-funded push for quantum-secured communications by China is not immediately visible or obvious in this preliminary parsing of decadal data, perhaps because it features in the ‘Other’ category. Huawei Technologies, however, is in the list of top 20 PCT filers with seven patent applications reflecting its commercial interest in quantum technologies.