A Brief Overview of IPR in China in 2008

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For many years, China has been criticized for lacking innovative and creative ideas in the course of its economic development, a shortcoming in large part ascribed to the technological gap between China and developed countries. As an inevitable consequence of this gap, China has few other options but to adopt, legally or illegally, innovations from developed states. This often led to IPR violations in China, which in turn resulted in China being labeled as a nation that imitates rather than innovates. Yet in trying to make China a leading world economy, the Chinese government is increasingly exerting itself to shake off this negative image. And 2008 was a year when the results of its work in this direction took a more visible shape.


In 2008, China received 828,328 patent applications, an increase of 19.4% year-on-year. Among these applications, 86.6% (717,144) were submitted by Chinese companies, and 13.4% (111,184) came from foreign companies. China granted 411,982 patent rights, 17% more than in 2007. 352,406 were granted for domestic companies and 59,576 for foreign companies, with a growth rate of 16.8% and 14.5% respectively, according to the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO).

Patent applications have grown steadily, with an increased number of applications from enterprises. Around 40,500 domestic companies submitted patent applications in 2008, a year-on-year rise of 23.9%, while 420 enterprises had more than 100 patent applications. 27% of the total number of domestic applications was for invention patents, a rise of 1% on the previous year. The rate of approvals for applications from Chinese companies increased, but the ratio of granted patents to total applications was still slightly in favor of foreign companies. The gap was especially evident in high-tech fields, such as audio-visual, optical and semiconductor technologies, where Chinese companies still lag far behind foreign countries. The number of patent applications in every domestic technical area increased, and most of these achieved double-digit growth.

Policy and Anti-piracy campaigns

With the adoption of the latest National Intellectual Property Strategy, China's Patent Law is undergoing amendment in order to ensure enhanced IPR protection and more efficient application processes. In the past, each application took one to three years to be processed, depending on their complexity. The revised law, which will take effect on October 1 2009, will encourage Chinese companies to develop more high-tech patents.

China has also conducted a number of anti-piracy campaigns, aiming to demonstrate a more rigorous response to numerous violations in the IPR sphere. In 2008, China confiscated over 76 million pirated publications and investigated 12,490 piracy cases. Among the seized publications, there were over 56 million pirated audio-visual products, 13 million pirated books, over 3 million fake teaching materials and pirated software and 2.8 million pirated electronic publications.

With the financial crisis affecting most of the world economies, it becomes even more crucial for China to integrate further with the development trends of global IPR protection. To overcome the most serious economic challenge in this century so far, countries will inevitably need to unite and coordinate their efforts, and exchange new plans and ideas with each other. At times like these, trust and responsibility plays an even more crucial role.

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Almeria said:

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog.

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