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An unstoppable force in global IP rankings

Updated: Dec 2, 2021 By YUAN SHENGGAO China Daily Print
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A man walks past the host city's exhibition pavilion during the China International Copyright Expo held in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, in October. CHEN ZHONGQIU/FOR CHINA DAILY

Latest WIPO report shows China leads the world with rising intellectual property filings

China came first in several intellectual property indicators in 2020, demonstrating its leading role in the global innovation landscape, experts said.

Its patent filings increased 6.9 percent to nearly 1.5 million, far more than the United States, which ranked second with more than 597,000 applications. Japan took third place with more than 288,500 filings, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization.

The World Intellectual Property Indicators 2021 report, released by WIPO earlier this month, found that the number of Chinese filings for utility models surpassed 2.9 million, taking up the lion's share of applications worldwide.

When it came to applications for trademarks and industrial designs, more than half of the world's total came from China.

On the plant varieties front, China registered a double-digit year-on-year increase to 8,960 filings, accounting for close to 40 percent of applications worldwide.

Driven by long-term growth in China as well as increased IP activity in neighboring countries, Asia accounted for two-thirds of all applications filed worldwide in 2020.

"This year's report illustrates that IP's center of gravity continues to shift. This is best evidenced by the ever-increasing number of applications in Asia," said Daren Tang, director-general of WIPO.

"While a decade ago, five out of 10 IP applications were filed in Asia, last year this number was close to seven out of 10 IP applications," he added.

Followed by Germany, the US and South Korea, China registered the fastest growth in the number of patents in force last year, reaching 3.1 million.

There were more than 8,400 protected geographical indications in force in China last year, also leading the world.

GI refers to a sign identifying a product as originating from a specific area and possessing a given quality, reputation or other characteristic that is attributable to that origin, according to WIPO.

Wang Wenbin, a spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, attributed China's achievements to the endeavors of advancing the national IP and innovation-driven development strategies.

The Chinese government has issued an outline for 2021-35 to realize the country's goal toward becoming an IP powerhouse. It has also announced a national plan for IP protection and utilization during the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25), aiming to achieve new breakthroughs in international cooperation.

China will actively participate in the IP global governance, play roles in improving international rules in the field, and promote related multilateral and bilateral talks concerning the economy and trade, said Gan Shaoning, deputy commissioner of the National Intellectual Property Administration.

Despite the deep economic shock caused by novel coronavirus, IP filings-patents, trademarks, designs and others-have proved highly resilient, WIPO Director-General Tang said.

Liu Hua, head of the WIPO China Office, said she believes that IP and innovation will become a force in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and promoting the transformation of the global economy.

Only a robust IP system can serve innovation; assist the restructuring and transformation of China's and the world's economy; and buck the trend of a worldwide economic slowdown amid the pandemic in a bid to achieve new growth in the economy and breakthroughs in innovation, Liu said.

Thanks to its efficient and robust IP system, China has made substantial progress in the IP field. As a major IP filer, it has a solid foundation to continue toward becoming a strong IP country, she said.

She added that China has gained a foothold as a leader in the global innovation landscape.

The country's investment in education and human resources has greatly improved its innovation capacities. China's outstanding performance in the World Intellectual Property Indicators reflects and emphasizes the significance of government policies and incentive measure to sustain innovation, she noted.

Since 2013, China has improved its ranking in the Global Innovation Index every year and hit a record high in the latest edition of the report. It is the only middle-income economy among the top 15 in the GII rankings.

Liu said that sooner or later, it will join the top 10.

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