Putting China's Patent Rise into Context
Intellectual Asset Management, November/December 2016
9 Pages Posted: 19 Dec 2016
Date Written: December 19, 2016
By all accounts, China became a trail-blazing world economic power in the early 21st century. Adjusting for purchasing power parity, China’s gross domestic product per capita increased by 240% from 2000 to 2011. China’s State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) currently receives more patent applications than any other patent-granting authority, with 80% of applications coming from Chinese residents. To compare, fewer than half of all applications to the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) come from US-based inventors.
This growth in patenting represents a new reliance on technological development. Patent applications to SIPO from large and medium-sized enterprises grew at an average annual rate of 38% over the same period. Instead of relying solely on manufacturing, the Chinese are attempting to grow their economy through technological advancements.
This article presents an empirical study of Chinese patenting trends in the United States across several decades and uses three primary approaches to present a comparative analysis of these trends. First, it compares current US patenting trends from Chinese applicants to those from other Asian countries, as well as from emerging economies in Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS). Second, it uses historical data to compare the recent growth in Chinese patent applications filed in the United States to similarly active periods of growth for applications from South Korea and India during the late 20th century. Third, it examines data on the influx of foreign capital into China.
The results show that China’s patenting trends at the USPTO have much in common with other East Asian technology booms. These similarities are striking when looking at the growth of South Korea in the 1980s. The role of foreign direct investment can also be observed as shifting in technological focus and geographic concentration. This analysis provides helpful insights into possible future developments.
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