China Leads the World in Patent Filing

China was the world’s top patent filer for 2011, according to a new Thompson Reuters report. The significant uptick is attributed to the country’s desire to transform from a “made in China” to a “designed in China” market.

China is well on its way to meeting that goal, at least when it comes to filing patents. Published patent applications in China increased by 16.7 percent between 2006 and 2010, according the report. Thomson Reuters projects that China will publish 493,000 patent applications annually by 2015.

Despite the patent boom in China, the country still faces intellectual property challenges, particularly with respect to the quality of its patents. As the report notes, the government provides lucrative incentives for Chinese companies to file patent applications, regardless of whether a patent was eventually granted.

The new research also revealed the following:

  • Trademark Applications Surge: Since 2000, the number of trademarks registered in China has increased by more than 450 percent, far outpacing other nations, despite widespread counterfeiting and infringement.
  • Growing Influence in Scientific Literature: Over the last five years, there has been an 80 percent increase in Chinese scientific literature annual output, making China second in the world in published scientific papers. The United States, which currently has the highest overall output, grew by five percent.
  • Slow to Expand Globally: Chinese organizations are not protecting their inventions by filing patents globally at the same level as other innovation-minded countries. Currently, only 5.6 percent of China’s inventions are protected with global patent filings abroad, far less than the United States (48.8 percent) and Japan (38.7 percent).
  • China’s Corporate Innovation Lags: According to the Thomson Reuters Top 100 Global Innovators analysis, the most innovative companies in the world are based in the United States (40 percent), Europe (29 percent) and Japan (27 percent).
  • Global Brands Capitalize on Chinese Consumerism: In an economic environment that is expected to reach $4.3 trillion USD in retail spending by 2015, leading multinational companies have been among the top 20 trademark filers in China from 1976 through 2011.
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