More competition from China

  • Providers will need to improve multilingual solutions, particularly for Chinese
  • The next decade will see new markets emerge throughout the world
  • New competitors to service providers will emerge in low-cost jurisdictions

One of the biggest challenges in the data that is emerging in the patent field today concerns language. “Most of the growth in patents in the past decade has been in Asia, in particular China,” points out one service provider. While good tools exist to translate patent documents (including free services), none of these is yet reliable enough for businesses to depend on when making investment decisions.

A priority for service providers will therefore be how to deal with documents and data in multiple languages, particularly in Chinese. “China is easily the biggest inbound market. India needs to open up and Japan is also difficult to break into,” as one provider says.

He adds that the trend in patents can be put in simple terms: a decade ago, there were about five countries where patents came from, and five big markets. That has developed to the point where there are still five big originator countries, but now there are 10 markets. Over the next few years, that will become 10 originator countries and 10 markets.

Our report on in-house patent departments speculates on where some of these markets might be: China and India are obvious candidates, but places such as Nigeria, Brazil and the Middle East are also contenders.

Growing markets provide a great opportunity for service providers, but also raise difficult questions about expansion and competition. It won’t be long until there are big Chinese companies providing search and docketing services in intellectual property, or even more sophisticated IP services. “I’m surprised that we’ve not seen competitors in China yet. The national market is so big that the route to scale is much quicker,” comments one western service provider. Another adds: “China came late to intellectual property. There is no big player in Asia at the moment, but this may come at some point.”

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