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Canada: a Global Hotbed of Quantum Computing Patent Filings

Patents are but one form of intellectual property leveraged to protect innovation, such as for protecting advances in quantum computing.

Patent trends indicate that Canada has found home to a global audience of patent filers for quantum computing related technology . What do the trends tell us about the importance of filing for patent protection in Canada?

Canada Hosts a Global Audience of Quantum Computing Patent Filers

Canada has provided a home for entities around the world who wish to protect their quantum computing related innovation. Entities based in the United States of America own more than half of all quantum computing related patents and patent applications filed in Canada in the last 20 years. Canadian entities own the next biggest share of quantum computing related patents and patent applications in Canada with Canadian companies D-Wave and 1QB Information Technologies leading the way. Entities based in Great Britain, Australia, Germany, Japan, Finland Austria, France, and Switzerland own sizable shares of quantum computing related patents and patent applications in Canada, though considerably smaller than Canada’s share.

The types of entities filing patents in Canada relating to quantum computing also encompasses a broad spectrum. Types of entities include quantum computing companies (D-Wave, 1QB Information Technologies), academic and research institutions (National Research Council of Canada, MIT, Harvard) aerospace and defence manufacturers (Northrop Grumman), tech companies (Google), and many other technology verticals.

Issued Quantum Computing Patents are Trending Up

Canada has seen patent application filings relating to quantum computing technology increase more than four-fold from about 45 applications in 2012 to more than 200 application in 2016. Patent Filings have since dipped slightly to about 180 applications in 2017 and 2018. Given that patent applications generally do not publish until 18 months after filing, not all filings from 2019 and 2020 are publically available and thus filing numbers for those years remain subject to change. At present however, 2019 filings are trending above 150 and should further increase.

Issued patents have followed a similar pattern to patent applications filings. About 10 quantum computing related patents issued in each of 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015, increasing to 20 or more issued patents in each of 2016, 2017, and 2018, and increasing further to 30 or more issued patents in each of 2019 and 2020. 2021 shows no signs of slowing down with 9 patents having already issued.

The gap between the number of patents filed versus the number of patents issued is expected.

Patent applications do not proceed to grant as a matter of right and rather must comply with rigorous patentability requirements. For example, some quantum computing patent applications will no doubt go abandoned as a result of challenging subject-matter eligibility requirements that can arise with software based inventions. Further, given the time needed for applications to proceed through examination to grant, the number of issued patents will lag the number of patents filed. Despite such observations however, it is still reasonable to expect that the number of patents issuing in the near future will continue to keep pace with, or exceed, the number of patents issued in recent years.

Canada is a Top Priority Jurisdiction for Quantum Computing Patents

Though the number of quantum computing related patent applications filed in recent years has plateaued from the peak filings in 2016, Canada continues to see a high volume of patent applications filed in relation to quantum computing. Furthermore, the data suggests Canada should continue to sustain or exceed the number of patents issued in recent years for quantum computing. Coupled with the broad spectrum of countries, and types of entities filing for protection, Canada has staked its claim as a destination for protecting quantum computing innovation that any serious innovator in the quantum computing space must consider.

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