Chinese Invention Patents Leap Over 4 Million
Updated: 1 24,2024 Source:China IP News

As of the end of 2023, China (note: all numbers in this piece not including Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan) owned 4.015 million domestic invention patents - becoming the first country in the world in possession of over 4 million valid domestic invention patents. 1.665 million or 41.5% of the valid domestic invention patents were high-value invention patents. The outgoing year's performance of the Chinese patent work was characterized as advancing on a steady pace, progressing with upgrading quality and unfolding a promising outlook, according to a State Council Information Office (SCIO) press conference reviewing the IP work in 2023 held on January 16, 2024.

"Registering the first, second and the third million took 31, four and two years respectively; the fourth million merely one year and a half. Over 40 percent of the said 4 million patents are high-value invention patents. China has become a major IP country indeed, incessantly contributing to the global innovation development," Hu Wenhui, Deputy Commissioner of the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) outlined.

Collection of high-value creations picking up pace

The Chinese patent system has been running for nearly 40 years. Since the convening of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, grant of invention patents in China has been rising steadily accompanied by burgeoning innovation power of the entire society.

"Number of high-value invention patents owned by per 10,000 population" is one of the key indexes prescribed in Outline of the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for National Economic and Social Development and Vision 2035 of the People's Republic of China. That number is anticipated to hit 12 by 2025. The latest statistics show that the 2023 year-end number logs at 11.8, 5.5 more than the end of the 13th five-year period and on pace to accomplish the said 2025 objective in advance this year.

Clearly a major force behind innovative activities, companies dominate valid domestic invention patents with a share of over 70%. Further breakdown of statistics shows that tech companies rely heavily on self-generated innovations for their quality development, evidenced by home high-tech companies/tech SMEs owning 2.134 million valid domestic invention patents or 73.4% of all such patents owned by companies of all sorts.

In addition, key areas have been spearheading the nation's innovative activities. As of the end of 2023, Yangtze River Delta, Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei and Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area held a combined 65.6% of all valid domestic invention patents. Tech innovation was deeply integrated into the national strategies for these areas, serving as a robust engine for their industrial and economic development.

Patent-intensive industry in China generated around 70% of domestic invention patents by employing less than 7% of the society's workforce. According to Ge Shu, Deputy Commissioner of CNIPA's Patent Office and Director General of the Strategic Planning Department, innovation in strategic, emerging sectors in China became more dynamic, fees were more willingly paid for high-value patents to keep them alive for longer and longer years and IP policies clearly paid dividends for helping companies grow. As of the end of 2023, 70% of valid domestic high-value invention patents belonged to strategic, emerging sectors. The average term for domestic high-value invention patents was 8.4 years. Among domestic high-value invention patents, 104,000 had secured higher amount of loans through pledging, up 37.4% year on year.

High-level protection upgraded in both quality and efficiency

Over the year, the Chinese IP protection system became more well-rounded with more well-oiled mechanism, more easy-to-access-and-use service, leading to more satisfactory feedback. In 2023, the society's satisfaction over IP protection in China climbed to 82.04 points.

"The construction of the IP protection system is a systematic project. The CNIPA has remained committed to planning the grand scheme, coordinating and advancing every link of the IP protection chain, striving to build an IP protection system that can work without clogs throughout the hierarchy and with other relevant systems," Guo Wen, Director General of CNIPA's IP Protection Department presented an outlook of the system. As of now, the operational protection centers and rapid right enforcement centers have received a cumulative 120,000 relevant cases of IP protection and right enforcement; these centers have registered a memorandum for around 150,000 companies/public entities, over 5,700 of which are so-called specialized "little tech giants" verified by the state that use special and sophisticated technologies to produce novel and unique products.

The wider approval of geographical indication (GI) products commensurately calls for higher and higher bar for protection. Zhang Peng, Director General of CNIPA's Department of Treaty and Law introduced the policy arrangements concerning the protection of GI products. After the latest round of the Party and the administration's institution reform, the CNIPA has been accelerating to build a well-coordinated and integrated GI system, while preparing a uniform GI legislation.

The agreement on China-European Union (EU) GI protection and cooperation had entered its third year after conclusion and effectiveness. During the three years, the CNIPA had been committed to fulfilling its international obligations on GI protection, delivering heavy blows to GI counterfeits; endeavored to build national demonstration areas for GI product protection, boosting high-level protection and high-quality development of GIs. An increasing number of Chinese GI products had entered the European market with significant growth in export over the years. The export of Liuyang fireworks, for example, never stopped making new highs since being mutually recognized, reaching 7.06 billion yuan in 2023.

"The CNIPA is to inspire the innovation dynamics of the entire society and aide the high-quality economic and social development," Hu concluded.