China has much work to do in improving its intellectual property (IP) industry, according to Dr. Mao Jinsheng, director, Intellectual Property Development & Research Center, State IP Office.
According to Mao, speaking at the Business of IP Asia conference in Hong Kong, China is likely to surpass US as the leading patent developing nation by the end of 2014 – but the sheer number of patents did not tell the whole story.
“The long term plan is to be number one. But do we have very high quality patents? Do we have the skills to use patents?” he said. “There is room for improvement.” Furthermore, Mao said IP disputes aimed at China were on the increase. “We must improve our IP industry to meet the challenges ahead,” he said.
The strategy for improving the industry will focus on four areas: innovation and patent quality; usage; protection; and patent management.
In terms of quality, Mao said China was a unique country. As a manufacturing centre, it necessarily imported patents; and at the same time it developed its own innovative patents. But Mao said the number of innovative patents was considerably less than the number of imported and developed patents.
The Chinese government would actively support and fund its enterprises to help them develop new innovative patents internationally, he said.
On protection, Mao said there is not much existing protection afforded to the Chinese patent industry. Trade protectionism in particular has been on the rise in the last three years, with some countries taking steps which Mao said were “contrary to international practice, even contrary to practice in their own country.”
He said he hoped Hong Kong could take a leading role in IP protection for China, acting as the bridge. “We will consider helping Hong Kong become China’s IP Service Centre” he said.
The China government will also invest in new technology to support the development of the IP industry. According to Mao, his office is working on a unique IP Trading Platform, tentatively named the “China Patent Trading Market”. There are already some 30 websites operating in this field, he said, mostly in the more economically developed cities and provincial capitals. But the government project would establish a nationwide exchange.
For companies seeking success in this field, Mao advised a careful understanding on Chinese government policy as it relates to supported industry and sectors. “You need to gain a full understanding on the Chinese government’s emphasis on various industries and policy inclination [towards those industries]. If you study that well, you will be able to work very closely with companies,” he said.
As the chart shows, China was ranked third in terms of worldwide patent applications in 2010.