The United States and China drove international patent filings to a record level last year with applications for the first time surpassing the 200,000 mark, the United Nations intellectual property agency today reported, with record highs also reached for trademark and design applications.“The new records in international IP filings attest to the importance of intellectual property in the global innovation ecosystem,” said Francis Gurry, Director General of the UN World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The US accounted for 56 per cent of patent filings, with Chinese applicants filing 29 per cent of the 205,300 applications for intellectual property under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) System. Under this system, applicants can simultaneously seek protection for an invention in 148 countries throughout the world by filing one international application.According to WIPO, the overall 2013 figure represents a 5.1 per cent growth in applications compared with 194,400 the previous year, when figures still trailed growth seen prior to the global financial crisis in 2007.The Madrid System, which registers trademarks, saw a 6.4 per cent rise in applications to 46,829 in 2013, the highest number ever recorded. Germany filed 6,822 applications, followed by the US with 6,043 and France with 4,239 in 2013. The Swiss pharmaceutical company, Novartis, heads the list of top applicants, with 228 applications.International industrial design applications filed under the Hague System increased to 2,990 filings in 2013, also another record, representing growth of 14.8 per cent. Switzerland, with 662 applications, overtook Germany, with 643 applications, as the largest user of the system. Swatch AG of Switzerland, with 113 applications, continued to be the largest individual filer.In line with growing investments in research and development, the automobile industry has seen a sharp increase in international patent filings over the last three years, WIPO reported.