China dwarfs rivals in patent applications

Enterprise Innovation editors
15 Dec 2014

China continued to overshadow other countries in published patent applications, publishing 629,612 patents in 2013, which was over 200,000 more than the United States, according to Thomson Reuters.

Thomson Reuters’ report titled Chinese Corporate Trends and Globalization for IP shows that, over a decade, the ratio of domestic to foreign applications has also shifted from just under 50% to over 75%.

As a result, the Chinese rate of patent growth over the evaluated 10-year span dwarfs all competitors, as the country increased its overall invention patent applications from 40,000 in 2003 to over 600,000 in 2013.

According to the paper, this push is driven by a five-year plan in which the country has set out to reach two million applications for patents for inventions, utility models and designs by 2015.

The study found that the pharmaceutical industry was driving the patenting boom, but the quality of IP is suspect. China has nearly 80% of world share in patents for alkaloid/plant extracts, and around 60% of global share of pharmaceutical activity, general patents.

However, these filings are held by thousands of individual inventors with a handful of patents each, rather than portfolios maintained by universities or corporate entities.

Also, domestic innovation in China was on the rise as foreign filing failed to keep up. Overall, 80% of China’s patents were filed domestically in 2013, leaving China’s foreign growth flat.

Further, Chinese multinationals are burgeoning while China as a whole is doing substantially less international patent filing than other regins of the world. A few leaders have emerged in the global patent landscape, including Huawei, ZTE , Shenzhen Huaxing Optoelectronic, Alibaba Group, BOE Technology Group, Lenovo, Tencent, BYD, SMIC and Sany.

The Chinese National Patent Development Strategy highlights the country’s plans through 2020, including seven strategic industries positioned for growth — biotechnology, alternative energy, clean energy vehicles, energy conservation, high-end equipment manufacturing, broadband infrastructure, and high-end semiconductors.

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