In 2020 the China National IP Administration (CNIPA) released statistical data on patents, trademarks, geographical indications and layout design of integrated circuits, revealing growth in all areas of the Chinese IP landscape.
With regard to patents, the data shows that:
- 530,000 invention patents, 2.377 million utility model patents and 732,000 design patents (domestic and foreign) were granted;
- 72,000 Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) international patent applications were accepted;
- there were 67,000 domestic applicants;
- 48,000 patent re-examination cases and 7,000 invalidation cases were concluded, with a year-on-year increase of 28.9% and 34.1%, respectively; and
- overall, 2.213 million valid invention patents were owned by Chinese entities (excluding Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan) by the end of 2020.
For trademarks, the data shows that:
- 5.761 million trademarks were approved for registration; and
- 149,000 trademark opposition cases and 358,000 trademark review cases were concluded, with a year-on-year increase of 64.7% and 7.8%, respectively.
The numbers for geographical indication (GI) applications demonstrate that:
- 10 applications for GI products were received and six were approved (‘GI products’ are defined as GIs protected by CNIPA under the sui generis system, as opposed to the collective and certification trademark system);
- 765 GI marks were approved for registration; and
- overall, 2,391 GI products were approved and 6,085 GI marks were registered by the end of 2020.
With regard to IP protection and use:
- 42,000 administrative cases on patent infringement disputes were handled by administrative enforcement authorities nationwide; and
- 12,039 cases were financed by pledging the trademark and patent right, with a year-on-year increase of 43.8%. This reached Rmb218 billion overall, with a year-on-year increase of 43.9%.
Finally, with regard to integrated circuits layout design, 14,375 applications for these were received and 11,727 certificates were issued, with a year-on-year increase of 72.8% and 77.3% respectively.
The CNIPA highlighted four major trends in its data. First, both quality and efficiency have improved in examining IP rights applications. On average, the examination period of high-value patents was reduced to 14 months, 20 months for invention patents and four months for trademarks.
Second, the quality of domestic invention patents is improving constantly. The number of Invention patents held by domestic registrants, which are valid for more than 10 years, reached 281,000 by the end of 2020, accounting for 12.3% of the overall patents.
Third, there is now more protection for domestic corporates’ IP rights overseas. This is evidenced by the fact that PCT patent applications filed by domestic applicants increased by 17.9% and Madrid international trademark applications filed by domestic applicants increased by 16.1%, by the end of 2020.
Finally, there is growing confidence in the countries involved in the One Belt, One Road initiative for developing business in China. Mapping out the path, 23,000 invention patent applications were filed by a number of member countries by the end of 2020, with a year-on-year increase of 3.9%, which surpassed the average growth of in-bound applications.