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April 25, 2009

China Ascendant

In the 18th century, America was the world's leading intellectual property thief: appropriating copyrighted works and infringing patents as part of its economic development. That same disapprobation has been applied to China in the past decade, as it was to Japan in the 1950s. China only started allowing intellectual property in 1985. Today, it leads the world in patent applications: over 800,000 in 2008.

The Economist characterizes the 800,000:

Most are for "petty" patents: middling technology that undergoes minimal review and receives only a 10-year term. Such patents are usually derided by research-intensive Western firms.

Such scorn can be expensive. Schneider Electric of France, which has hammered a Chinese competitor, Chint Group, for years with lawsuits over patents, was recently nailed for infringing one of Chint's petty patents, to the tune of $23m.

Chinese firms are increasingly filing "invention" patents that are rigorously scrutinised and receive 20 years of protection, as in the West (see chart). This year Chinese companies are poised to surpass foreign ones in receiving invention patents in China.

Since 2006 it has pursued a deliberate policy of gathering as many patents as possible and developing home-grown technologies--not least because Chinese companies pay around $2 billion a year in licensing and royalties to American firms alone, according to America's Bureau of Economic Analysis.

In 1999, China was awarded 90 US patents. Last year 1,225. Small time compared to, say, IBM, which gets around 3,000 patents each year. But with pendency as it is in the USPTO, expect US patent grants to Chinese companies to explode in the next few years.

The quality of patents issued in China is also improving. Revisions to the patent law that take effect in October strengthen the requirement for a patent's novelty, bringing it up to global standards. Stronger patents are easier to enforce, opening the door to more lawsuits.

Posted by Patent Hawk at April 25, 2009 8:14 PM | International


Perhaps we could send Jon Dudas over there to run their Patent Office.

Posted by: niRPa at April 27, 2009 3:52 AM

Nirpa have you gone traitor? He'll lower their backlog and increase quality and then China will be sure to surpass the US in GDP, taxes, manpower, small businesses, happiness, lessened pollution, lessened global warming, lower divorce rate, and every woman will naturally only be able to have one kid for a whole generation.


Posted by: 6000 at April 27, 2009 7:24 AM

6K, is that you hallucinating again?? Trying to read too much Kanji and Katakana text again in the drawing pane?? Try Display Properties > Drawings.

The only problem I see with my plan is that the Chinese may in fact have sent Dudas here, as preemptive strike.


Posted by: niRPa at April 27, 2009 8:05 AM

We need to make the process easier for inventors and innovators in US to get patents approved of quickly. Dudas didnt help but for the fact that he turned Judas! Although US inventors and innovators need to keep themselves updated on the system in China for filing. A recent site I came across on self-help was http://www.patentexpress.com. Automated inventing is one way to go about things that's for sure!

Posted by: Fred Smith at April 29, 2009 9:46 PM

With Patent Express, you can file a patent for just $159? It sounds unbelievable.
I want to file a patent for my game idea, but i do not know which package i should choose... they have standard, plus, and gold. the cost is much different. http://www.patentexpress.com/patents/provisonal_patent_application_price.aspx

Not sure if i should directly file a Utility patent. I heard this process usually take 3-5 years.

Posted by: judy at April 30, 2009 9:20 PM


You're right. It is unbelievable. Offering to file a provisional patent application that cheaply is a scam. It doesn't get you a patent filing, which is a non-provisional. You'd be throwing away your money.

You would be patently unwise to associate yourself with con artists. Forget Patent Express.

Please see our Platinum Patents site.

Posted by: Patent Hawk at April 30, 2009 10:20 PM