In December, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) released global patent filing statistics for 2011 as part of its annual World Intellectual Property Indicators report. This data revealed that China’s State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) had overtaken the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) to become the largest patent examining authority in the world according to the number of applications it receives. While WIPO suggested that “the geography of innovation has shifted”, the growth in SIPO’s workload cannot tell us anything for sure about the quality of the applications it handles or the strategic business value of the patents it grants – or, for that matter, about the innovation in the inventions those patents protect. Nevertheless, the growth of patenting activity in China should not be ignored by IP owners.

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