According to UN Agency World Intellectual Property Organization, China tops in patent applications in 2016, filing a record 1 million that nearly all focused on its giant home market.
China comprised more than one in three of the total 2.9 million patent applications in 2015, followed by the United States and Japan with about a half-million each.
The increase shows the strong demand for protection for intellectual property rights at a time when the world economy has shown lackluster growth.
Domestic-only applications made up about two-thirds of the global total; only about 42,000 Chinese applications were for patents outside China.
The United States, meanwhile, led the way when it comes to filing patent applications abroad, at nearly 238,000 last year.
The agency says the computer technology, electrical machinery and digital communications sectors recorded the highest number of published patent applications.
Overall, the number of patents last year grants grew 5.2 percent to 1.2 million. Trademark applications jumped 15.3 percent to nearly six million, and industrial design applications rose 2.3 percent to 872,000.