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WIPO report illustrates China’s strength in patent first filings

Song Mengxing
Updated: Nov 18,2015 7:39 AM     China Daily

Top 5 origins in first patent filings, 1995-2001 and 2005-2011[Source/WIPO based on PATSAT database]

China is the only emerging middle-income country moving closer to advanced industrialized nations in terms of patent applications for 3D printing, nanotechnology and robotics, a World Intellectual Property Organization report shows.

WIPO published the report that examines how innovation spurs growth and how the intellectual property system contributes to this on Nov 11.

Case studies focused on three fields with breakthrough potential-3D printing, nanotechnology and robotics; and three historical sectors-airplanes, antibiotics and semiconductors.

The report said that of patent applications since 2005, Chinese applicants account for more than a quarter of first filings worldwide in the case of 3D printing and robotics, higher than any other country.

Top 5 origins in first patent filings, 1995-2001 and 2005-2011[Source/WIPO based on PATSAT database]

As for nanotechnology patent filings since 2005, Chinese applicants make up nearly 15 percent of filings worldwide-the third-largest origin of patents.

Carsten Fink, WIPO’s chief economist, said China has made much progress in the past decade in patent applications in the three innovative fields, which have the potential to boost the economy, People’s Daily reported.

He said it was a reward for China’s long-term investment in education and scientific research. China has become second to the United States in terms of research and development expenditure and helps diversify the global innovation landscape, he added.

Top 5 origins in first patent filings, 1995-2001 and 2005-2011[Source/WIPO based on PATSAT database]

According to the report, China has seen rapid growth in 3D printing patent filings since 2005. By 2010, Chinese applicants were filing for more 3D printing applications than any other country, numbering almost as many as the Japanese and US applicants combined.

While China’s first patent filings in the area of robotics accounted for only 1 percent of total applications worldwide in 2000, that figure had risen to 25 percent by 2011.

The report said China hosts some of the fastest-growing robotics companies such as Shenzhen-headquartered DJI Co, a manufacturer of unmanned aerial vehicles for photography, and new industrial robot makers, including Siasun Robot and Automation Co in Northeast China’s Shenyang city, which are driving down the cost of robots.

Shanghai and Liaoning province, where Shenyang is located, are among Asia’s key robotics clusters.

Chinese universities, including Shanghai Jiao Tong University, largely dominate the top 10 robotics patent holders among universities and public research organizations.

The country has also begun playing an important role in worldwide nanotechnology patent filings since the late 2000s. Tsinghua University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences are among the top 20 nanotechnology patent applicants for first patent filings since 1970.

The report showed that universities and public research organizations account for a much higher share of patents in China than in many other R&D-intensive economies, higher than 70 percent for nanotechnology and 50 percent for robotics. In Japan, universities and public research organizations have never accounted for more than 10 percent of total first filings.

“Historically, major breakthroughs in technological innovation have been at the root of long-lasting expansions in economic output,” said Francis Gurry, director-general of WIPO, in the report’s foreword.

He said the report emphasizes that it is still very important for governments and business to continue investing in innovation.

Apart from government support, other elements of successful innovation systems are competitive market forces, efforts by companies and linkages between different innovation actors ranging from informal knowledge exchanges to formal R&D collaborations, according to the report.

The World Intellectual Property Report has been published every two years since 2011, and aims to explain, clarify and contribute to IP-related policy analysis to facilitate policymaking. Previous reports have explored the role that brands play in a global marketplace and the changing face of innovation.

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