Perspectives on the Growth in Chinese Patent Applications to the USPTO
27 Pages Posted: 21 Dec 2016
Date Written: February 1, 2014
The purpose of this working paper is to investigate utility patent applications to the US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) from inventors residing in China. It first focuses on the growth in the numbers of applications, putting this growth in context by comparing it to other important emerging economies. The paper considers how the technology mix of applications from China and the other comparison countries has evolved and how allowance rates have changed over the past decade. The paper also puts the recent growth of Chinese utility patent applications into historical perspective by comparing it to 1) the growth in South Korean applications for the 10-year period starting from the mid-1980s, and 2) the growth in Indian applications for the 10-year period starting in the late 1990s. We find that the growth in the number of applications from China has greatly outpaced the overall growth in applications from both domestic and foreign filers. It has also outpaced the growth in applications from other important emerging economies such as India and Brazil. At the same time, the technology mix of Chinese applications has become more heavily weighted toward communications and computing. We found a similar result for the applications which originated from the other major emerging economies. Finally, over the past 6 years, the allowance rate for Chinese applications has begun to converge with the allowance rate for Japanese and South Korean applications. The historical comparisons indicate that the growth in applications from China is not unique. Chinese growth has been very similar to the growth in applications to the PTO from South Korea starting in the mid-1980s. Overall, the results indicate that China is taking the next step in the development process from the production of standardized goods to the development of new products and processes.
Keywords: patents, China
JEL Classification: O34
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