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Patent applications, R&D spending up sharply

Updated: 2012-11-12 07:43
By Hu Yuanyuan (China Daily)

The number of invention patents applied for in China increased by more than 20 percent this year, exhibiting the fastest growth rate for that activity seen anywhere in the world, Tian Lipu, commissioner of the State Intellectual Property Office, said on Sunday.

Patent applications, R&D spending up sharply

An exhibitor shows visitors how to ride a bicycle specially designed for exercise during the China International Patent Fair 2012 at Dalian World Expo Center, Liaoning province, on Sept 16. Liu Debin / for China Daily

"Although the growth rate for this year is a bit lower than for last year, the quality has improved," Tian said at a news conference held on the sidelines of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China.

The number of patents applied for in the country has increased rapidly over the past decade. In 2011, China received 526,000 patent applications, a fourth of the total submitted in the world. A decade earlier, the number was around 40,000, making up only 5 percent of the world's total, Tian said.

Tian said the large number in 2011 suggests that businesses are aware of the value of intellectual property rights.

That year, Chinese people held 350,000 patents, and foreign companies and individuals in the country had a similar number, Tian said.

"After the Party congress, China will continue to more strictly enforce laws concerning intellectual property rights," Tian said.

In a report delivered at the opening ceremony of the Party congress, President Hu Jintao said China will adopt a strategy to develop intellectual property rights and further strengthen the protection of those rights.

Wei Jianguo, former vice-minister of commerce, said that was the first time the government had mentioned the importance of protecting intellectual property rights in a report to the Party congress.

"To some extent, that indicates that Chinese enterprises are putting a lot more effort into innovating," Wei said. "And their awareness of the need to protect intellectual property rights has also been greatly strengthened."

Chinese enterprises have largely increased their investment in research and development and PetroChina, for the first time, has taken a place among the top 100 companies listed on the latest Global Innovation 1,000 list compiled by the global management consulting firm Booz & Company.

Forty-seven Chinese companies appeared on the list last year, up from 40 in 2010, 23 in 2009 and 15 in 2008, according to the latest study.

It is noteworthy that although the study includes listed companies only, a few Chinese private companies have invested tremendously on innovation in recent years, said Steven Veldhoen, partner and head of China innovation practice at Booz & Company.

The telecommunications equipment and services company Huawei Technologies, for instance, spent 23.7 billion yuan ($3.66 billion) on research and development last year. That placed it in the 40th position in the latest Global Innovation 1,000 list, ahead of PetroChina, which held the 70th spot, and making it the largest spender on research and development among Chinese companies.