Intellectual property cooperation between China and Europe has contributed to China's economic modernization, said Benoit Battistelli, president of European Patent Office.
The "positive, win-win" partnership between the EPO and its peer in China, the State Intellectual Property Office, has created an IP environment in the country that is familiar to European companies. These European firms can then develop their businesses in the Chinese market knowing that their innovations will be protected, Battistelli said in an exclusive interview with China Daily during a symposium on the 30th anniversary cooperation between the two offices.
SIPO received nearly 1 million invention patent applications in 2014, including some 127,000 from abroad. The European Union was the second-largest overseas filer with the office, with 28 percent of foreign filings from EU member states.
In the same year, Chinese filers contributed more than 9 percent of some 270,000 applications filed with EPO, mainly clustering around the sectors of digital communication, computer technology and telecommunications.
The three sectors represented more than half of all patent applications from China in Europe last year. Telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies ranked fifth among the top 10 filers with EPO, the first time that a Chinese company has joined the top 10 at the European office.
Chinese filers have more than doubled their applications in the last five years, Battistelli said.
"Chinese companies are trying to be more international and make a growing presence in other large markets, including Europe and the United States," Battistelli said. "Thus they need to protect their innovations in other countries. That explains the rapid growth in patent applications from China in Europe."
Facing mounting stockpiles of applications and a growing complexity in technologies that are more and more difficult to analyze and evaluate, patent offices need to deliver high-quality - or "legally solid" - patents quickly to meet the demand, the veteran patent expert said.
"It implies a focus on quality," he said, citing training offered to examiners to update their expertise and developing efficient tools such as search engines as part of EPO's cooperation with SIPO to tackle the challenges.
Annual filings from China increased tenfold at EPO over the past decade and is surging.
Battistelli said the two offices have not only improved their own patent services, but are also contributing to the global patent system within the framework of a working group called IP5, made up of the world's largest IP offices from China, Europe, the United States, South Korea and Japan. These five offices represent approximately 85 percent of all patent applications worldwide.
"If we together harmonize our rules, procedures and practice, it will be a great contribution to a better global patent system."
Since SIPO and EPO established cooperation relations in 1985, thousands of IP specialists and professionals from Europe and China have joined in seminars, roundtable discussions, training and reciprocal visits.
The rise in people-to-people exchanges have also helped create a better IP ecosystem, the EPO president said.