"Digitalization is the new big innovation revolution: It is now transforming industries, by changing who innovates, the types and process of innovation," according to the World Intellectual Property Report 2022 released by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva, Switzerland on April 7. The report shows that China has fully integrated into the IT global value chains as a core and active participant. As of 2020, China-based innovators held 14% of the world's information and communications technology (ICT) patents, trailing the Republic of Korea (18%) and Japan (25%). It is worth mentioning that ZTE, Huawei, Haier and some other Chinese firms are the biggest owners of SEPs in 5G and Internet of Things.
Entering global innovation network
The report looked at patenting rates over the past century - a period marked by a number of major pulses in innovation activity-and found a 25-fold increase in overall growth, or about 3% each year. This growth was driven by a number of innovative activities.
As one of the most active innovation and entrepreneurship areas in the world, China has gradually entered the international innovation network with open posture and contributed wisdom and power to the world. A handful-including China and India-have become sources of innovation in several technological fields and participated actively in global innovation networks by contributing scientific knowledge, technologies and technologically-advanced goods and equipment, according to the report.
China's innovation power is being recognized by the international community, a feat that can be done without government's decisions and guidance. "Governments are uniquely placed to promote innovation, for example, by mobilizing resources, offering a wider perspective of society's needs and generally creating the right incentives and enabling environment to promote and harness human potential," WIPO Director General Daren Tang says.
Innovation is the major driving force for development, and protecting IP equals protecting innovation. In recent years, China has been beefing up the leading role in innovation and took several measures including bolstering IP protection and facilitating the implementation of some key S&T projects. In 2021, China ranked first in PCT filings for the third consecutive year. China's ranking rose to No.12 in WIPO's Global Innovation Index Report 2021, hitting a new high. China has become the fifth largest IP trader in the world. These facts suggest that Chinese business sectors have seen a rapid rise in innovation and technical commercialization, which boosts high-quality development of the whole society.
Accelerating digitalization process
The 21st century witnesses a trend in digitalization. Amid the COVID-19, digital economy is on a fast track motived by elevating reliance of the people on digital technologies. According to the report, digital innovation had quadrupled in the 20 years up to 2020, when it represented 12% of all patent applications, with a 13% annual growth rate. Digital-related patents increased by 172% in its share of the world's total patents from 2016 to 2020, and artificial intelligence (718%), big data (699%), cloud computing (122%) and autonomous systems (109%).
As the country with the most Internet users in the world, China has developed rapidly in digital business model, and took the lead in scale of digital economy for consecutive years. The report also mentions Baidu, Tencent and other firms are leading China into the era of industry 4.0 thanks to their tech edge and a deep knowledge of the Chinese market.
IP has played a vital role in the development of information technology. China has introduced incentives in this field. There has been an emphasis on so-called forward engineering, through which new or nascent scientific and technological knowledge is acquired in university labs before being applied in a top-down fashion to the development of commercial products. Also, the government has encouraged the constant upgrading of firms' activities within the same industry by moving from low to high value-added industries, according to the report.