China saw an increase in patent filings, more efficient intellectual property services, and stronger IP protection last year despite the novel coronavirus outbreak. The continued growth of foreign IP applications shows the confidence of foreign investors in the Chinese market as well as China’s progress in IP protection and the business environment.
Japan, the United States and Germany topped the list of the most patent filings in China last year, according to China’s National Intellectual Property Administration (NIPA).
The country granted 530,000 patents for inventions in 2020. It brought the total number of valid invention patents on the Chinese mainland to 2.21 million, said Hu Wenhui, spokesman for the National Intellectual Property Administration.
According to China Daily, since 2019, China has promulgated a series of laws, regulations and IP protection guidelines, including the Foreign Investment Law, to create a fairer, more transparent and predictable business environment for foreign investors.
“This continued growth of foreign IP applications shows the confidence of foreign investors in the Chinese market as well as China’s progress in IP protection and business environment,” said Dong Tao, a law professor at Beijing International Studies University.
For the third consecutive year, China-based telecoms giant Huawei Technologies, with 4,411 published PCT applications, was the top corporate filer in 2019. It was followed by:
- Mitsubishi Electric Corp. of Japan (2,661)
- Samsung Electronics of the Republic of Korea (2,334)
- Qualcomm Inc. of the U.S. (2,127)
- Guang Dong Oppo Mobile Telecommunications of China (1,927)
Filings are supported by generous subsidies provided by local governments. For example, Shanghai city provides 50,000 RMB in subsidies (~$7,100 USD) for each foreign patent granted (up to five) through a PCT application. Further, the Pudong District of Shanghai and the Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park each provided 100,000 RMB in rewards for foreign patent grants (the policies have since been removed from their respective websites).
WIPO’s head, Francis Gurry, told a news conference China’s success was “down to a very deliberate strategy on the part of Chinese leadership to advance innovation and to make the country a country whose economy operates at a higher level of value.
The “extraordinary volume” of IP applications reflects the importance of intellectual property in the contemporary economy, he said. IP applications are mainly driven by innovation and globalization, by the policy focus on innovation around the world, and the fact that innovation is increasingly the battleground for economic advantage, he explained.
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Figures from the China Semiconductor Industry Association show that China’s IC industry recorded double-digit growth in the first nine months of 2020. The industry’s sales topped 590.5 billion yuan ($91 billion) during the period, up 16.9 percent year-on-year. More than 40 percent of sales came from the IC design sector.