How China’s Intellectual Property System Is Changing Global IP: Part 1

Jun 16, 2020

How China’s Intellectual Property System Is Changing Global IP
In a recent LexisNexis® IP webinar “How China is Changing the Global Patent System,” patent experts analyzed the enormous effort China has put into the evolution of its intellectual property systems. China has made rapid progress in just months, compared to the decades that have historically been required for similar intellectual property development in other countries. As a result, China is now poised to take command of the intellectual property systems of the world. How did this happen, and what strategic advice do patent professionals need to provide to their clients in response to China’s patent growth?

China’s Intellectual Property Overhaul

In 2013, China’s president, Xi Jinping, announced the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a rapid expansion of the Chinese market to all countries on the way to and within the European Union. In addition to investing significantly in trade route infrastructure, including railroads, highways and high-speed telecommunications facilities, China is utilizing its relationships with countries impacted by the BRI to inform its own intellectual property regimes. It is estimated that China will invest 1.3 trillion USD on the BRI and its intellectual property overhaul over the next few years. China’s one-party political structure has already allowed it to implement quick and drastic changes, including substantial changes to its patent system and a movement to become the most influential country in the world’s top 25 most important technology areas.

The Chinese Patent Uprising and the United States Patent Decline

According to World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) patent data and statistics, aside from the United States and the United Kingdom, the number of patent applications filed in other countries is on the rise. Where there has been a 5% increase in patent filings worldwide, the United States saw a 1.6% decline in the number of patent applications filed with the USPTO in 2018—its first patent filing decline since 2009. China, on the other hand, is seeing an 11.6% growth in patent filings, which shows that both innovators and funding are shifting away from the United States and into China. In fact, the massive volume of patent filings with the Chinese Patent Office exceeds the total patent filings of the next four most active patent offices combined.

The Importance of Considering Chinese Prior Art

The incredible number of patent applications being filed in China means that a large proportion of the prior art that is relevant to the patentability of applications filed with the USPTO and other patent offices is located in the Chinese patent document archives. Today, nearly half of all global patent filings are in China, which means it is becoming ever more important for patent practitioners and patent applicants to take Chinese filings into account in their patentability analysis. There is a growing need to evaluate global prior art, even if a patent applicant only intends to operate in a limited geographic area.

How China Is Changing Global IP
One of China’s claimed intellectual property advantages is that it actively translates non-Chinese patent documents into Chinese to simplify prior art evaluation, and that it is not being matched by other countries regarding translations.

Fortunately, the LexisNexis TotalPatent One® patent search platform enables patent professionals to access more than 1 million patent documents from patent authorities around the world, including machine-translated patent documents from the Chinese Patent Office. Users can search in English or in the language of an original filing, and the option to reverse-translate patent documents from English into Chinese is currently under development. With TotalPatent One® patent search tools, patent professionals can perform comprehensive patent searches without missing out on the abundance of prior art produced by China.

To learn more about how China is changing global IP, check out the original “How China is Changing the Global Patent System” webinar. And be sure to watch for the next article in this two-part series.