Decreased patent filings, yet robust innovation

2024-March-22 09:42 By: Xinhua

by Xinhua writer Yuan Quan

BEIJING, March 21 (Xinhua) -- The decline in global patent filings has raised concerns about potential stagnation in worldwide innovation. China's performance, however, can provide some reassurance.

According to the World Intellectual Property Organization, in 2023 China remained the top source with 69,610 international patent filings, slipping 0.6 percent from a year earlier, the first drop since 2002. The total number of patent filings worldwide experienced a 1.8 percent decline, with many other leading countries in intellectual property (IP) also observing decreases last year.

The temporary dip caused some economists to speculate about an innovation crunch. However, there may be a different perspective when examining China's case.

The slight fall in China's patent submissions indicates a shift within the country's IP sector from expanding in scale to focusing more on quality and high value, thereby enhancing genuine indigenous innovation.

The shift is evident in several aspects. Increased scrutiny and stricter criteria for patent applications are now in place, ensuring that only authentic innovative ideas can get the green light.

This transformation aligns with broader reforms. Since 2019, China has updated major IP laws, introducing stringent punitive measures and refining the IP review process through 16 reform initiatives issued by the State Council in 2021. These measures highlight China's commitment to quality over quantity in patenting.

Furthermore, the Chinese government actively promotes the deep integration of industry, universities, and research institutes, encouraging research and development investment and independent innovation. This approach is not only accelerating technological progress but also providing strong support for sustainable economic growth.

"Less is more." The dialectical phrase perfectly captures the essence of China's IP sector in its pursuit of high-quality development.

The National Intellectual Property Administration (NIPA), the country's top IP regulator, reported a 25.7 percent increase in the number of patents for high-value inventions last year. Moreover, with a population of 1.4 billion, China's average ownership of high-value invention patents rose to 11.8 patents per 10,000 people by the end of 2023, 2.4 more than in 2022.

China's contribution to global IP extends to cutting-edge sectors like quantum information, AI, and 5G. A study by the German think-tank Bertelsmann Stiftung showcases China's leadership in green technologies, with a surge in top-tier patents, positioning the country as a key global player in this domain.

Such dedication to quality-driven innovation has propelled China to the 12th spot on the Global Innovation Index 2023.

Earlier this year, Shen Changyu, the head of the NIPA, reiterated China's commitment to enhancing patent quality and actively engaging in global innovation partnerships.

The decrease in patent filings may create the impression of a temporary slowdown in innovation, but China's focus on enhancing quality in its IP practices promises to bolster its innovative capabilities and contribute significantly to global innovation dynamics, fueling the growth of new quality productive forces.

Editor: ZAD
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