Patents are a virtue Which countries file for most international patents? Feb 8th 2010 | From The Economist online THE number of applications for international patents fell by 4.5% in 2009 compared with the year before to 159,000 as companies in Western countries cut back on R&D spending during the recession. Yet applications from east Asian economies, including Japan and South Korea, increased slightly, while those from China soared by 30%. Since 2005 applications from China have grown by 210% as the country has developed a home-grown high-tech sector. But, reflecting America's economic power and corporate dynamism, the United States is still the country from which the most filings orginate, and it has a huge lead. However, the number of American applications has fallen substantially from a peak of 54,000 in 2007.