China's IP experts finished a busy year, and have another one ahead

China Plus Published: 2019-01-11 21:08:45
Share this with Close
Messenger Messenger Pinterest LinkedIn

Note: The following is an edited translation of an article from the Chinese-language "Commentaries on International Affairs."

The heads of intellectual property (IP) offices across China recently gathered in Beijing to review their work in 2018, and set their tasks for this year.

Intellectual property. [Photo: VCG]

Intellectual property. [Photo: VCG]

Some of the achievements raised at the IP Office Directors' Meeting included the completion of the reform of national and provincial IP institutions, and unifying and centralizing the management of trademarks and patents. The number of invention patents lodged in the Chinese mainland last year reached 1.602 million, an 18.1 percent increase on the previous year. The number of domestic trademark registrations (excluding registrations by foreign countries or international registration under the Madrid system) reached 18.049 million, an increase of 32.8 percent. A total of 2,380 geographical-indicator products were approved, and 4,867 such trademarks registered. Total incoming and outgoing IP fees exceeded 35 billion U.S. dollars. And China's legislature completed its first review of the draft amendments to the Patent Law, which would introduce punitive damages for infringements.

These examples indicate that China is becoming an IP powerhouse. Behind this activity is the positive interaction between innovation and industrial development. Take as an example the Beidou navigation satellite system, which recently started providing services globally. Its creators overcame hundreds of technical challenges in the development process, which has driven rapid growth in patent generation: Since 2012, more than 11,000 patent applications have been made each year relating to the Beidou system. The establishment of the BDS Intellectual Property Right Alliance has in turn promoted innovation in related industries. Data shows that the added value of China's patent-intensive industries accounted for 12.4 percent of GDP.

Of course, China's IP protections are in a process of continuous improvement. For instance, there are still problems with patent protections, including high costs and low compensation. Although the number of invention patent applications in China has been ranked first in the world for seven consecutive years, quantity is not the same as quality. Moreover, extracting value from further reform and opening up requires an accompanying rise in IP protections. This is why the attendees at the IP Office Directors' Meeting will have a busy year ahead of them.

Of the areas that are to be the focus of further work, the most prominent will be finalizing the revision of the Trademark Law, strengthening the legal systems associated with IP rights, research into IP protection of innovations in emerging industries, entering cooperation agreements with the World Intellectual Property Organization on technical innovation support centers, and helping neighboring and developing countries to upgrade their IP management capacity. These plans show that China's government is taking an approach to intellectual property rights protection that accords with national conditions. It also shows that it is keen to continue taking part in international collaboration in this field.

As China's companies continue to expand their global reach and exposure, China's government hopes that governments elsewhere will make similar efforts to strengthen their protection of IP rights. The IFI CLAIMS Patent Services, a global patent database, recently released a list showing that companies from China were recipients of more than 12,500 U.S. patents last year, a 12 percent increase from the previous year and a record high. The number of patents granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office last year was down 3.5 percent from 2017, but the number of patents obtained by Chinese companies increased.

An analogy has been drawn between IP rights and a bridge that has innovation at one end and the market at the other. As China's IP protections continue to improve, they will contribute even more to stimulating innovation and injecting new energy into both the development of China's economy and global economic growth.

Related stories

Share this story on


LU Xiankun Professor LU Xiankun is Managing Director of LEDECO Geneva and Associate Partner of IDEAS Centre Geneva. He is Emeritus Professor of China Institute for WTO Studies of the University of International Business and Economics (UIBE) and Wuhan University (WHU) of China and visiting professor or senior research fellow of some other universities and think tanks in China and Europe. He also sits in management of some international business associations and companies, including as Senior Vice President of Shenzhen UEB Technology LTD., a leading e-commerce company of China. Previously, Mr. LU was senior official of Chinese Ministry of Commerce and senior diplomat posted in Europe, including in Geneva as Counsellor and Head of Division of the Permanent Mission of China to the WTO and in Brussels as Commercial Secretary of the Permanent Mission of China to the EU. Benjamin Cavender Benjamin Cavender is a Shanghai based consultant with more than 11 years of experience helping companies understand consumer behavior and develop go to market strategies for China. He is a frequent speaker on economic and consumer trends in China and is often featured on CNBC, Bloomberg, and Channel News Asia. Sara Hsu Sara Hsu is an associate professor from the State University of New York at New Paltz. She is a regular commentator on Chinese economy. Xu Qinduo Xu Qinduo is CRI's former chief correspondent to Washington DC, the United States. He works as the producer, host and commentator for TODAY, a flagship talk show on current affairs. Mr. Xu contributes regularly to English-language newspapers including Shenzhen Daily and Global Times as well as Chinese-language radio and TV services. Lin Shaowen A radio person, Mr. Lin Shaowen is strongly interested in international relations and Chinese politics. As China is quite often misunderstood in the rest of the world, he feels the need to better present the true picture of the country, the policies and meanings. So he talks a lot and is often seen debating. Then friends find a critical Lin Shaowen criticizing and criticized. George N. Tzogopoulos Dr George N. Tzogopoulos is an expert in media and politics/international relations as well as Chinese affairs. He is Senior Research Fellow at the Centre International de Européenne (CIFE) and Visiting Lecturer at the European Institute affiliated with it and is teaching international relations at the Department of Law of the Democritus University of Thrace. George is the author of two books: US Foreign Policy in the European Media: Framing the Rise and Fall of Neoconservatism (IB TAURIS) and The Greek Crisis in the Media: Stereotyping in the International Press (Ashgate) as well as the founder of, an institutional partner of CRI Greek. David Morris David Morris is the Pacific Islands Trade and Investment Commissioner in China, a former Australian diplomat and senior political adviser. Harvey Dzodin After a distinguished career in the US government and American media Dr. Harvey Dzodin is now a Beijing-based freelance columnist for several media outlets. While living in Beijing, he has published over 200 columns with an emphasis on arts, culture and the Belt & Road initiative. He is also a sought-after speaker and advisor in China and abroad. He currently serves as Nonresident Research Fellow of the think tank Center for China and Globalization and Senior Advisor of Tsinghua University National Image Research Center specializing in city branding. Dr. Dzodin was a political appointee of President Jimmy Carter and served as lawyer to a presidential commission. Upon the nomination of the White House and the US State Department he served at the United Nations Office in Vienna, Austria. He was Director and Vice President of the ABC Television in New York for more than two decades.