The number of patent filings by foreign parties in China has grown rapidly over the past five years. While it took more than 20 years (ie, from 1984, when the Chinese patent laws were implemented, to 2005) for the number of patent filings by foreign parties to reach 500,000, this has since doubled in the past five years.

According to statistics released by the State Intellectual Property Office, as of 9th September 2010 the accumulated number of patent filings (including invention, utility model and design filings) exceeded 1 million, comprising the following:

  • Invention – more than 860,000.
  • Utility model – more than 16,000.
  • Design – more than 120,000.

The top four filers, and their respective numbers of filings, were:

  • Japan (361,000).
  • United States (242,000).
  • Germany (89,000).
  • Korea (81,000).

Other countries with a substantial number of filings include France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, England, Sweden, Italy and Finland. Filings by applicants from these countries represent more than 90% of the total number of patent filings by foreigners.

This rapid growth indicates that an increasing number of foreign enterprises are interested in exploiting their patent rights in China, probably as China is an attractive market for them and has improved its IP rights protection system.

This article first appeared in IAM magazine. For further information please visit www.iam-magazine.com.