China to issue the most patents in 2011

Now isn’t this interesting. China, whose ancient and noble culture does not include much respect for intellectual property, believes that it will be the leader in the world for issuing patents in 2011, outgunning the USPTO, the European Patent Office, and Japan. They say that both number and quality of patents have increased steadily to the point where the Chinese Patent Office will issue the greatest number of patents in 2011.

I never knew it was a race. Patents are good within the geographic boundaries of the sovereign nation that issues the patent during the term of the patent. Therefore, patent offices don’t compete with each other the same way that, say, a car dealership competes with the dealership down the road. You can — and often should — obtain patent protection in more than one country. China cannot grant patent protection in the United States or in Japan or in the European Union or in any other country; the patents issuing in China may well also issue in other countries. Other patent offices might consider hunkering down and getting ready for a blitz of applications based on the number of Chinese patents whose owners may seek foreign protection.

I am delighted, however, to see that China’s Patent Office is so very busy. That says to me that Chinese law recognizes the intellectual property rights of others; the culture, then, should follow suit, though perhaps the culture will move more slowly than does the law in this instance. The fact that they are signatory to the Patent Cooperation Treaty (they entered the treaty on 1 January 1994) says that the laws governing this culture are changing, which will eventually change the culture’s respect for intellectual property.

So, bravo for China!