China leads patent filing, but US and EU companies are more innovative

LONDON | By tracking published patent applications, examining real-world trademark and copyright infringement issues and comparing the government policies and long-term innovation strategies of China to other world leaders, Thomson Reuters research suggests that although China leads the world in patent and trademark filings, its status as a global player still faces challenges.

The following are some of the key findings of the new research:

  • China Now Leads World in Patent Filings: Published patent applications in China increased by 16.7 percent between 2006 and 2010; and this year’s patent activity secures China’s status as the world leader in patent application volume. Thomson Reuters projects that China will publish 493,000 patent applications annually by 2015.
  • Trademark Applications Surge: Since 2000, the number of trademarks registered in China has increased by more than 450 percent, far outpacing other nations, despite widespread counterfeiting and infringement.
  • Growing Influence in Scientific Literature: Over the last five years, there has been an 80 percent increase in Chinese scientific literature annual output, making China second in the world in published scientific papers. The United States, which currently has the highest overall output, grew by five percent.
  • Slow to Expand Globally: Chinese organisations are not protecting their inventions by filing patents globally at the same level as other innovation-minded countries. Currently, only 5.6 percent of China’s inventions are protected with global patent filings abroad, far less than the United States(48.8 percent) and Japan (38.7 percent).
  • China’s Corporate Innovation Lags: The most innovative companies in the world are based in the United States (40 percent), Europe (29 percent) and Japan (27 percent).
  • Global Brands Capitalise on Chinese Consumerism: In an economic environment that is expected to reach $4.3 trillion in retail spending by 2015, leading multinational companies have been among the top 20 trademark filers in China from 1976 through 2011.

David Brown, president of the IP Solutions business of Thomson Reuters, said

“Intellectual property is the bridge that connects innovation with economic growth […] we can see China is clearly on that path, but there are significant milestones yet to be attained.”

* The research findings are available in two new reports, Invented in China and  Special Report: Trademarks in China.

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