China IPR

USPTO Working Paper on Growth in China’s Patent Filings

The Office of the Chief Economist at USPTO has published a working paper on “Perspectives on the growth in Chinese patent applications to the USPTO” (Working Paper No. 2014-1, by Alan Marco, Richard Miller and Jay Kesan).    The paper looks at utility (invention) patent applications to the US from inventors residing in China.  The paper concludes that “growth in the number of applications from China has greatly outpaced the overall growth in applications from both domestic and foreign filers.”  To readers of this blog, this is hardly surprising n light of tremendous growth of domestic patent filings in China.  Somewhat surprising is that while biotechnology (Tech Center 1600) experienced the least growth, it still grew at a healthy 20% for the period 2000-2011, compared to growth rates of 38 and 36 percent, respectively, for communications and semiconductors.  This data to me suggests that China has a growing interest in its overseas biotech patent portfolio.

The paper puts this growth in historical perspective, by comparing it to the growth in South Korean applications for the 10 year period starting in the mid 1980’s.  In adition, in 2000, the USPTO received 422 patent applications from mainland China, compared to 1,500 applications from eight other emerging economies.  By 2006, the PTO was receiving 23 percent more applications from China than the other eight emerging economies (Argentina, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Russian, South Africa and Turkey) combined.

 What was most striking however is the improvement in patent allowance rates, which suggests that the quality of patent applications is going up.  Over the past six years, the allowance rate for Chinese applications has begun to converge with the allowance rates for Japanese and South Korean applications.  The report notes: “This may indicate that Chinese applicants are developing institutional expertise regarding how the system works at PTO.  It may also indicate that the mix of inventors has changed and that more applications are coming from Chinese inventors who are working for multinational enterprises.” 

Perhaps Chinese inventors are also securing better counsel for their inventions, or showing greater care?

2000-2011: Comparing Allowance Rates of Disposed Applications


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