As reported by zhichanli, CNIPA (the new agency formed from SIPO, SAIC and AQSIQ’s – IP authorities within the State Administration for Market Regulation) held a news conference on January 10 to report on statistical developments for 2018. Here are some of the highlights:
Explosive Patent Growth Continues: 1,542,5000 invention patent applications were received by CNIPA, an increase from 2017 when it was 1,381,594. 432,000 patents were granted. Of these 346,000 were domestic patent applications (2017: 326,970). This leaves 86,000 foreign applications for 2018 (2017: 93,174). There was therefore an increase of 5.8% to 19,030 in Chinese domestic patent grants in 2018, while foreign grants appear to have dropped by 7.7% to 7,174. Any drop in a growing economy and IP system can be indicative of a problem of some type.
In total 93.3% of the domestic invention patents were service inventions, which is one indicator of possibly increasing quality. Huawei remained the lead domestic filer with 3,369 invention patent applications.
CNIPA had a busy year examining 808,000 invention patents, 1,874,000 utility model patents (an increase from 1,687,593), and 667,000 design patents (an increase from 420,144). The PRB heard 38,000 cases, resolved 28,000 and invalidated 5,000 patents.
Comparative data on 2017 is drawn from this report.
Trademarks Too, on Overdrive: CNIPA received 7,337,1000 trademark applications (2017: 5,748,00) and registered 5,000,7000. Of these, 4,797,000 were domestic applicants. In aggregate, there were 18,049,000 trademarks registered in China (2017: 14,920,000). The good news is that the rapid growth in TM applications is slowing. In 2017, there had been a year-on-year increase of 55.7% in trademark applications. In 2018, the increase was “only” 31.8%.
Patent Administrative Enforcement Continues to Be the Focus: CNIPA reported 77,000 administrative patent cases, with an increase of 15.9% over the previous year. 35,000 cases involved patents disputes, of which 34,000 involved infringement (an increase of 22.8%). 43,000 cases involved counterfeit patents, with an increase of 10.9%. There were also 31,000 cases involving illegal trademark activities. This was an increase from approximately 30,000 the year before, which was itself a decrease of 5.1% from the prior year. The apparent administrative enforcement realignment to patents thus continues, despite recent moves to improve the civil patent system, including the establishment of a specialized IP court at the SPC level, and the relatively high historic utilization of the administrative trademark system by foreigners.
Another odd development: 2018 marked the launch of the first administrative case involving infringement of a registered semiconductor layout design.
TM’s Remain Number 1 in Geographical Indications: There were 67 sui generis GI registrations approved, presumably under the former AQSIQ system, and 961 GI trademarks registered. The trademark-based GI system thus appears to be occupying a dominant role.
Cross-border Trade In IP – is it Growing: CNIPA also reported that “usage fees” for IP rights in cross border trade increased to 35 billion USD. Comparative data to prior years and breakout data with individual countries would be especially useful, in order to do year-on-year comparisons and to also compare with US data on licensing revenue. As reported in an earlier blog, according to official Chinese statistics for 2013, technology import contracts into China were reported at 41 billion dollars, with patent licensing contracts constituting 15.4% of that total. I don’t have comprehensive data to make even preliminary comparisons at this time – and such data would be highly useful.
Summary: Altogether, the report shows a rapidly growing huge IP system, with active government involvement, encouragement and planning. The report also suggests that there may be a diminishing foreign role, relative and/or absolute, in certain areas. Finally, this report is the first hint of how the combined CNIPA may report on its joint activities in patents, trademarks, semiconductor layout designs, GI’s and administrative enforcement. Additional data is usually released around IP Week of each year (April 26).