Eastern Migration: Patent Filing and Protection in China

As one of the largest filers of PCT national stage applications in the world, inovia often observes firsthand global trends occurring in the foreign filing industry. One noteworthy development in the past decade is the emergence of China as both a major source and destination for patent applications. For instance, China was the top national stage entry country in 2009 among our clients, surpassing Europe for the first time in our history.


Why File in China?

This is a common question we field from our clients. After all, applicants have historically associated China (and by extention perhaps other BRIC countries) with lax IP law enforcement, and many wonder whether patent protection there is worth the expense of its pursuit.

To aid in changing this global perception, China passed the Third Amendment to Chinese Patent law, effective October 1, 2009. The Third Amendment significantly strengthens protection of patent rights, including increasing infringement penalties, granting officials the authority to conduct investigations and patent infringement raids, and establishing an evidence preservation system. These new laws, along with the recognition of China as a commercial and industrial behemoth, help explain the surge of applicants seeking patent protection in China, even during these troubling economic times.


Increased Patent Applications Originating from China

Increased awareness of the need for IP protection and an environment fostering innovation will also designate China as a leading source of patent applications. In 2008, the top PCT patent filer worldwide was Huawei Technologies, a Chinese telecommunications company, with 1,737 applications. The next year, they were surpassed by another Chinese telecommunications manufacturer, ZTE Corporation, which filed 1,164 applications. Coincidentally, the one millionth PCT application was one filed by a Chinese corporation.  Needless to say, we expect China’s PCT momentum will only continue for the coming years.


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