China has overtaken Germany in the global ranking of patent applications to become the fifth largest source of filings, the Financial Times reported. In its first comprehensive report on patent activity, published Monday, the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) found China had a sevenfold increase in patent filings in 10 years, underscoring the increasing prominence of Asian industrial powers in intellectual property. The UN agency ranked Japan top of the patent league, followed by the US, the European Patent Office, South Korea and China. Together, they accounted for three-quarters of all patents filed in 2004, the latest year for which comprehensive figures are available. In China half the patent filings in 2004 were by foreign companies, while most filings in Japan and South Korea are still by local inventors.