25 Mar

The outlook

Over the years, the Chinese IP sector has been driven by revising R&D and taxation policies to reflect the country’s priority – to move further up the innovation pipeline, into developing and manufacturing ever more complex technologies.

In an economy as large and complex as China’s, deciphering the next steps can be a little tricky. Earlier this year, the China National IP Administration (CNIPA) issued a new policy document, Notice of the State Intellectual Property Office on Further Strictly Regulating Patent Application Behaviour. It addresses three aspects:

  • the time frame for cancelling patent subsidies and funding;
  • a ban on using patent quantity as the primary condition for departmental evaluation or awards; and
  • amending the Patent Law’s implementing regulations and strengthening credit supervision in the field of patent applications.

It is worth noting that not all subsidies come from the CNIPA. They are also offered by local municipalities and local governments. Therefore, there is a possibility that these indirect subsidies will remain unaffected.

The subsidy-driven system explains the high filing trends among research institutes and universities. The Chinese patent ecosystem has the quantity machine running successfully and now it is aiming at quality.

This was notable in President Xi Jinping’s recent address – “Comprehensively Strengthen Intellectual Property Protection, Stimulate Innovation and Promote the Construction of a New Development Pattern” – in which he discussed creating high-quality and high-value intellectual property.

While some companies may continue to struggle to get a foothold, China will remain a hot market for foreign entities to innovate and seek IP protection given the massive domestic market. Competition will only grow more intense and the question might be to what extent the country’s local players continue to dominate the patent rankings or whether ongoing geopolitical tensions throw everyone a curve ball.

The authors would like to thank Sateesh Thipirisetty, Janani J and Cheruku Ravi for their work collating the data for the report.


Dolcera analysed only the active published and granted documents for this study – the overall ranking is based on granted invention patents. It does not include utility models, although there is a separate ranking for those in the report. Portfolio size is based on the numbers as of 31 December 2020.

The assignees have been normalised (including re-assignments) using Dolcera’s AI-based patent search tool PCS. The resulting actionable corporate data set was mapped to the respective regional headquarters. Deeper insights have been derived by leveraging PCS to identify key strategic technology trends across various domains based on the patent activity by the top 100 patent filers in the region.