China leads patent applications, but lacks innovation

It may have been the top patent-filing nation last year with over 825,000 patent applications, but China is still lacking innovation and should focus on helping inventors commercialize their patents.

It may have filed over 825,000 patent applications last year, but China is still lacking innovation and should instead focus on helping applicants implement their patents. 

The number of patent applications filed in China climbed 26.3 percent year-on-year in 2013 and was the world's highest volume for the third consecutive year, according to the country's State Intellectual Property Office, reported China Daily. It overtook the U.S. and Japan for the first time in 2011 when it emerged as the leading patent-filing nation.  

Of the 825,000 applications filled, some 208,000 were granted including 147,000 filed by local applicants. As of end-2013, China has over 587,000 valid patents held by domestic inventors, achieving the targeted number outlined in its national 12th Five-Year Plan. 

"The growth in patent applications shows that both individuals and enterprises are paying more attention to intellectual property protection by patenting their inventions," said Gan Shaoning, deputy director for State Intellectual Property Office. "It also shows that our country is making great strides toward becoming an innovative economy."

It does not, however, indicate China can be regarded a global innovator. It needs to also convert these patents into actual commercialized projects. Citing Tao Xinliang, director of Shanghai University's IPR College, China Daily reported: "It's more about quality than quantity. In some major key areas we still heavily rely on foreign technologies without enough self-research and development. We should stop pursuing the numbers and focus more on helping applicants, especially small enterprises and individuals, implement their granted patents."

Feng Xiaoqing, IPR professor at China University of Science and Law, also urged the Chinese government to increase its policy and financial support to encourage research facilities and local inventors to implement their patents.