China’s development in Intellectual Property is inspiring

China has made tremendous development in Intellectual Property based on its technological growth and advancement over the years.

With its continued innovation, China has in the last 30 years proved to be an intellectual power, setting an impressive record of 1.4 million patent applications in 2019 alone.

Of these, 453,000 were approved, marking an increase of 4.8 per cent year-on-year, according to figures released by the National Intellectual Property Administration (NIPA).

From NIPA’s data, Huawei, Sinopec, and Oppo topped the rankings for newly approved patents filed by domestic firms last year.

The innovation in recent years exemplifies China's aspiration to contribute to international IP cooperation and development.

The World Intellectual Property organisation (WIPO) coordination committee is preparing to select its nominee for the director-general’s post at a closed-door vote on March 4-5, before the agency‘s general assembly makes the final decision in May.

WIPO is a self-funding agency of the United Nations that handles patents, trademarks and industrial designs.

China has a candidate for the seat, Ms Weng Binyang, for the WIPO elections set for this month, for a six-year term.

Established in 1967, WIPO is one of the United Nation’s specialised agencies and is charged with the responsibility of promoting IP protection; help businesses and individuals obtain IP rights, besides increasing accessibility to IP information.

Latest official data shows that patent applications filed by overseas entities rose by 6 per cent year-on-year to 157,000 in 2019, while trademark applications filed by them jumped 4.7 per cent to 255,000.

Japan, the US, and Germany were the top countries last year in terms of patent applications, while the US, Japan and Britain led the way in trademark applications.

China's added value of patent-intensive industries hit over 10 trillion Yuan ($1.42 trillion) in 2018, contributing more than 15 per cent to GDP growth. This is impressive.

Known for its manufacturing supremo, with almost all brands globally maintaining a plant there, China has emerged as a production country because that is what fuels its economy.

But now it is quickly transforming into a technology-based economy due to new global scientific and innovation centres set up across China.

It is impressive to see how Chinese companies value Intellectual Property home and abroad as they become profitable with global brand visibility.

And to demonstrate just how serious China values IP protection, three courts were established in three of its biggest cities—Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou—to help explore an IP adjudication system with Chinese characteristics.

Records from the World Intellectual Property Organisation show that 301,278 new IP-related cases were filed in Chinese courts, with more than 80 per cent at 287,795 having been concluded.

This is credited on the country’s short adjudication record as compared to other countries.

Innovation in China has seen high-value patents acquired in Artificial Intelligence, mobile communications, biomedicine and high-speed railways.

That China is employing measures to strengthen IP protection, is proof enough of how serious it takes this matter.

It recently introduced new amendments to the Chinese Trademark Law that was enacted on November 1, 2019, in addition to existing laws that are so strict and implemented to the latter with stiff penalties.

By 2022, China plans to shorten the invention patent application to about 16 and half months and 13.8 months for a high-value patent, according to China’s National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA).

The average time recorded last year in processing trademark registration in China was shortened to 4 and half months compared with six months recorded the previous year. This is remarkable.

In addition, CNIPA has so far approved the establishment of 26 centres nationwide to solve the proof-providing difficulties and reduce the processing time and cost of intellectual property rights protection.

Since 1980 when China joined WIPO, it has taken part in almost every major international IP convention, and it is credited for building a strong legal framework over the past decades, including the Trademark, Patent Law, Copyright Law and the regulations on the protection of New Varieties of Plants.

And to ensure Global compatibility, with international agreements, China constantly revises its Intellectual Property.

Now as the battle moves to the UN during the upcoming elections set for March 4, may the best candidate win.


Eliud Mwara, Public Policy Consultant.