Scientific discovery and R&D increase the storehouse of knowledge, which then enables invention, innovation, and societal and economic benefits.
Patents grant novel, useful, and nonobvious inventions legal ownership rights for a specified period. Utility patents are an internationally comparable indicator of invention. However, they are an incomplete indicator because not all inventions are protected by patents.
Many inventions are patented in multiple international jurisdictions as inventors operate and seek patent protection in these markets. Data on patent families provide a broad unduplicated measure of such global inventions. Based on
these data, inventors in China accounted for about half (49%) of such patent families in 2018.