BEIJING - The number of patent applications in China has increased sharply as the country boosts research spending, but they are still of relatively low quality, a senior patenting official said on Thursday.

"Compared with those steeple-crowned invention patents in developed countries, many of ours are patents for small improvements, utility models or design," said Tian Lipu, director of the State Intellectual Property Office, or SIPO.

However, "something is better than nothing, and low quality patents are much better than imitation or copyright infringement," Tian said at a news conference, adding Chinese enterprises should be encouraged to innovate, starting from even a small invention.

The SIPO received a total of 2.051 million patent applications and granted 1.255 million patent applications in 2012, of which 217,000 invention patents were granted, a 26.1-percent increase year-on-year, according to a statement released by the office.

"Patent quantity is the foundation of quality," said Tian, who stressed that China is at a stage featuring an explosion in the number of patents as it is going through a transformation from factory-driven growth to an innovation-driven economy.

The SIPO has attached great importance to guaranteeing the quality of granted patents, and measures have been taken to boost the country's ability to innovate, Tian said.

(Source:China Daily)