What Do China’s High Patent Numbers Really Mean?

Delivering sustainable economic growth
Posted Apr 29, 2021 | Center for International Governance Innovation, Alex He

In 2019, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) reported that China filed 1.4 million patents, or 43.4 percent of the world’s applications that year - more than twice the number of filings in the United States. Alex He suggests in this article by the Center for International Governance Innovation that instead of being innovation-driven, most of China’s patent applications are driven by efforts to secure government subsidies, job promotions, enhanced reputations for individuals, universities and institutions, or certification as national high-tech enterprises. Between 1985 and 2020, only 11–19 percent of the domestic patents granted were for inventions, which is the key indicator to evaluate the level of science and innovation in a country. The author argues that China’s patent quality is below the world average and significantly lower than that of developed economies, including France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States.



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