Throughout global IP, developing IP economies are having an increassing impact on innovation and IP rights. However, some of the new leading nations in IP have proved to be just as interesting. The relatively young State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO), or Chinese Patent Office (CPO), was created in the 1980s. Since its creation, the Chinese IP economy has been growing exponentially. How does its growth and participation in the PCT compare to other leaders in the IP industry?
Growth and Trends
After analyzing the data of China’s Country Profile and the World Intellectual Property Indicators on WIPO, it seems as if the first ten to fifteen years after the creation of SIPO were an experimental period. Although growth is obvious, it was slow and steady. In 1995, China accounted for only 0.3% of the total PCT applications and 0.8% of total patent grants within the top five patent offices. It wasn’t until 2003 that China was able to make strides with their patent applications and grants. According to the SIPO website, there were 627,385 patents granted from 1985-2000. In 2003 alone, 182,226 patents were granted. In 2010, China could claim 7.5% of the total PCT applications and 14.9% of total patent grants within the top five patent offices.
“The volume of Chinese patent applications increases year by year ever since the entering into force of the Patent Law on April 1, 1985. In recent 5 years, the average annual increasing rate is 23%.” – SIPO on patent growth in China
IPR and Global Impact
Chinese IP continues to grow, but is it quality growth? According to the International Property Rights Index, China has an overall IPR score of 5.2 and a ranking of 59 out of 130. Its low score is largely due to the fact that there is weak patent protection in China and that it has a Copyright Piracy score of 1.6. Patent protection in China is still in its infancy and has yet to be ranked by the IPRI.
One of the most interesting things about China’s growth is that as it is growing, it is slowly pushing the other leaders of IP economy like Japan, the United States of America, and the Republic of Korea, down the ranks. Since 1996, China has climbed from 8th in resident patent applications to 1st, pushing Japan down to 2nd, the U.S. to 3rd, and the Republic of Korea to 4th.
If China continues at this rate of growth, it will soon be the leader in IP production. However, IPR score will need to improve at the same rate. If it doesn’t, other countries with lower production and higher IPR may appear more appealing than China to foreign investors. While growth is always a good thing, it’s important to remember the need for a balance between quality and quantity.
For more information on China’s involvement in the IP industry, read our previous posts on International Patent History and Laws and International Patent Application and Prior Art Search.