China is fast catching up with America as the world’s largest economic power, and securing patents, designs and trademarks in China should be taken into serious consideration.
China has, unfortunately, had a poor reputation amongst non-Chinese rights owners regarding their enforcement of intellectual property ( IP ) rights, namely due to the large amount of counterfeit goods which are sold within China and which make it through their customs every year. This misconception that China does not take the protection and enforcement of IP rights seriously has deterred many from fully protecting their IP rights in China.
However, China is now taking steps to further enforce IP rights. The outcome of a recent court case resulted in harsh fines, the confiscation of the company’s income and a number of prison sentences. The Chinese government is focusing heavily on this development in IP law, and since joining the World Trade Organisation ( WTO ), has stepped up its border control with successful results.
China has also turned the tables by issuing lawsuits against those who infringe on China’s own IP rights owners, and the number of IP litigation cases is rising by 35% annually.
Securing innovation within China is rapidly taking hold amongst Chinese residents – last year, applications filed by foreign applicants made up just 10.1% of all patents filed in China, with the remaining 976,686 applications being filed by Chinese nationals.
The proportion of non-resident application filings is decreasing despite around a third of Chinese commerce involving foreign businesses.
Furthermore, Chinese companies are increasingly looking into their IP rights abroad. China has become the fifth largest filer of international patent applications ( PCT ) in the world. Filing of international patent applications ( PCT ) rose in China during 2009 by nearly 30%. This may be due to Chinese Government subsidies being available for such filings amounting to around £5000 GBP.