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!

SIPO reports dramatic increase in patent applications for 2008

I met Lynn Wang, a Chinese IP attorney who works in California, at a NYS Bar Association Intellectual Property Section meeting at Lake George’s Sagamore Resort a couple of years ago. Since that time, I’ve gotten weekly updates from her on the status of IP law in China.

Her latest tells me:

“According to the latest statistics on China’ State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) website, China received 828,328 patent applications last year, including the applications for invention, utility model and design, an increase of 19.4 percent year-on-year.

“The SIPO received 289,838 applications for invention in 2008?up 18.2 percent over the last year. Among them, 194,579 applications for invention were filed by Chinese applicants; a yearly increase of 27.1%. 95,259 applications for invention were filed by foreign applicants; a yearly increase of 3.4%.

“In 2008, totally 411,982 applications were granted, an increase of 17.1 percent year-on-year.”

China is quickly catching up to the United States in terms of the number of patent applications filed. They’re not there yet, but for a country whose IP protection has been nonexistent for millenia, they’re doing really very well. Patent protection (and trademark and copyright protection, too) represents a real shift in the Chinese people’s paradigm. The expression of ideas in China have been free for the taking forever; now, thanks to Western influence and market demand, the expression of ideas isn’t free for the taking anymore.

I visited the SIPO (the Chinese State Intellectual Property Office) website ( and learned that 2009 is the first time for Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to give equal stress in his Government Work Report to the Three Strategies for China:

  • IP strategy
  • rejuvenation of China through science and education, and 
  • reinvigorating of China through human resources development . 

This equal stress on all three initiatives will further promote the development of China’s IP cause.

Thanks to Lynn for keeping me updated on the development of intellectual property in the country that covers 1/4 of the world’s land mass.