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International filings set to hit 60,000 annually by 2020

Updated: Feb 16,2017 7:57 AM     China Daily

By 2020, the number of international patent applications filed via the Patent Cooperation Treaty is projected to reach 60,000 in China, doubling the figure of 2015, according to a recent national plan.

The national plan for intellectual property protection and utilization during the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20) was released by the State Council in December last year.

“The number of PCT applications is an important indicator to reflect industrial innovation capability and also a major index to evaluate international competitiveness of enterprises,” Li Shunde, a professor of law and intellectual property rights at the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, told China Intellectual Property News.

The goal set in 2020 was therefore an important initiative to encourage market players to participate in global competition during the period of 2016-20, which focuses on deepening reform, further opening up and implementing innovation-driven development, Li said.

In the World Intellectual Property Organization’s 2008 world company PCT rankings, Huawei Technologies topped the list with 1,737 PCT applications. This was the first time for a Chinese company to rank first in the world in this field.

In recent years, some Chinese companies, including Huawei and ZTE, have maintained their high rankings in PCT applications worldwide. Benefiting from their overall layout and accumulation of PCT applications, these companies have established a solid foothold amid fierce international market competition.

“It indicates that the ones with more PCT applications will have an edge in development in the context of global economic integration and the internationalization of market competition,” Li said.

The number of PCT filings in China has witnessed a significant increase over the past few years. In 2015, the country was listed in the world’s top three, dealing with more than 29,000 PCT filings, 2.4 times more than those of 2010. Last year, the figure increased to 45,000, 93 percent of which were from Chinese applicants.

To see this figure increase by 30,000 PCT applications in five years is feasible, but won’t be easy, said Tao Xinliang, head of the School of Intellectual Property Rights at Dalian University of Technology.

“It requires constant guidance and support from management departments, scientific planning and layout from companies, and specific services and comprehensive support from society,” Tao said.

Given the fact that China is carrying out its Belt and Road Initiative, domestic companies aspiring to go global will enjoy a better political and social environment and the initiative will encourage them to make more PCT applications, Li said.

“Quantity is of course important for PCT applications, but quality is a key to winning,” Tao said.

According to the State Intellectual Property Office, Chinese companies have high-quality PCT applications mainly in the field of telecommunications, while foreign applicants have the edge in the fields of machinery, chemistry and photoelectricity.

Tao suggested Chinese applicants make more efforts in these weak fields to improve the overall international layout of the country’s PCT applications.