China to overtake US as global IP giant

More patents will be filed in China than any other country in the world by 2012 if current trends continue, says a new report by customer research firm Evalueserve.

The US is the current leader when it comes to patent filings, followed by Japan, but China is quickly catching up thanks to reforms to its IP system.

The creation of an online and searchable patent database, a robust appeal mechanism and a hierarchy of courts to deal with IP law appeals has seen more than four million patent applications lodged since 1985 – the last million of which have come in the last 18 months.

As well as more patents, the changes have also resulted in a big spike in IP litigation. According to Evalueserve, just under 3000 patent related lawsuits were filed in Chinese courts in 2005, up 15% on the year before; by contrast, the number of lawsuits in the US is steadily declining, with just 2817 cases launched in 2006.

But despite these improvements, foreign companies have been slow to catch on to China’s IP revolution. In 2007, 62% of all patent applications in China were lodged by domestic companies, up 25% on 2006, while the 38% lodged by foreign companies represent a much lower 4.5% increase.


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