Pandemic fails to halt growth of IP filings in China

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China saw an increase in patent filings, more efficient intellectual property services and stronger IP protection last year despite the novel coronavirus outbreak. There was notable growth in registrations for the layout design of integrated circuits, the country’s top IP authority said on Friday.

The country granted 530,000 patents for inventions in 2020. It brought the total number of valid invention patents on the Chinese mainland to 2.21 million, said Hu Wenhui, spokesman for the National Intellectual Property Administration, at a virtual news conference.

The number of invention patents per 10,000 people reached 15.8 last year. It "exceeded the annual target of 12 set for the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20)", Hu said.

In 2020, China granted 2.38 million patents for utility models and 732,000 patents for industrial designs.

With NIPA, Chinese applicants filed 67,000 patent applications under the Patent Cooperation Treaty and made 7,553 applications to register trademarks via the Madrid System, up 17.9 percent and 16.1 percent year-on-year respectively.

The increases "indicate strengthened capabilities of Chinese companies to build an international IP portfolio", Hu said.

IP examination procedures were streamlined last year. The time needed to examine applications for high-value patents was shortened to 14 months. The average time needed to examine invention patent applications was cut to 20 months and that for trademark registration applications to four months.

On the protection front, enforcement officials handled more than 42,000 patent infringement disputes through administrative adjudication last year. A recent survey showed that public satisfaction with IP protection in China scored 80.05 points out of 100, which is a record high, according to Hu.

In 2020, China received 14,375 applications for IC layout design registration, a year-on-year surge of 72.8 percent. The figure was 2,400 in 2016. The average annual growth rate over the past five years was 57.1 percent, according to the administration.

The growth can be attributed to the rapid development of the country’s IC industry and better protection for IC layout designs, said Ge Shu, head of strategic planning at NIPA.

Figures from the China Semiconductor Industry Association show that China’s IC industry recorded double-digit growth in the first nine months of 2020. The industry’s sales topped 590.5 billion yuan ($91 billion) during the period, up 16.9 percent year-on-year. More than 40 percent of sales came from the IC design sector.

Ge said more than 5,600 companies applied to register IC layout designs last year, which was more than twice the figure of 2019.

"This indicates that more innovators set great store by the protection of technological innovations and are using the protection system for IC layout designs to protect their rights and interests," Ge noted.

NIPA said the quality of invention patents improved over the past year. As of the end of 2020, China was home to 281,000 invention patents that had remained valid for more than 10 years. The number accounts for 12.3 percent of the total and represents a year-on-year increase of 1 percentage point.

Of the 246,000 Chinese companies with valid invention patents, 105,000 are high-tech enterprises. They own nearly 60 percent of the valid invention patents of domestic companies, according to the administration.

Last year, China received a greater number of patent applications from countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative.

A total of 23,000 applications for invention patents filed in China were from countries involved in the BRI. They represent an increase of 3.9 percent from 2019 and is higher than the year-on-year growth in total foreign applications in China.

Among these countries, Singapore and South Korea recorded a marked increase in filings, up 21 percent and 4.4 percent year-on-year respectively, according to the administration.

Source: China daily