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The more than 210,000 invention patents granted in China last year "illustrate progress in technology and the country's capacity for innovation", said a senior official from the State Intellectual Property Office at a press conference last week.
The 26.1 percent increase over 2011 sent the nation's total patent inventory past the one-million milestone for the first time.
"Now IP is improving the country's core competitiveness and changing the economic development model," Gan Shaoning, deputy commissioner of SIPO, said at the meeting.
"Companies are the country's mainstay in innovation" with nearly 55 percent of domestic invention patents granted in 2012, he added.
Telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies topped the list with some 2,700 invention patents granted, followed closely by fellow telecom equipment maker ZTE just seven patents behind.
Both companies based in Guangdong helped it top all provincial and municipal economies for inventions, followed by Beijing, Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Shanghai.
The same five locales also took the first five spots in international patents filed last year through the Patent Cooperation Treaty. Together they had 80 percent of the country's PCT applications.
While the eastern coastal region remains the most fertile ground for inventions with 67.8 percent of the patents filed last year, central and western provinces have also seen considerable growth, said Gan.
In comparison, the proportion of inventions from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, as well as the provinces in Northeast China, continues to fall, he said.
Gong Yalin, director of SIPO's planning and development department, said the "rising number of applications reflect increased IP awareness, while growth in patents signals improvement in capacity for innovation."
Affected by worldwide financial turmoil that began in 2008, fewer patent applications were filed by foreign companies with SIPO in 2010 and 2011 than in 2009, but that changed last year, Gong noted.
Cao Donggen, deputy director of SIPO's patent management department, said the rebound reflects renewed attention to the Chinese market by foreign companies and their recognition of the nation's enhanced IP protection efforts.
The total number of patent filings by foreign companies has now surpassed 1.25 million, said Cao.
Five invention powerhouses - Japan, the United States, Germany, South Korea and France - generated more than 80 percent of the invention patents granted last year.
(China Daily 02/27/2013 page17)