In follow up to a press conference on July 9, 2020, the China National Intellectual Property Administration released detailed patent data for the first half of 2020. In 2019, China displaced the U.S. as top Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) user and looks likely to remain the top user in 2020. For the first half of 2020, China, as receiving office (RO) for the PCT, received 29,548 international PCT applications. Annualized, this would be 59,096 PCT applications for the full year. This compares with 60,993 PCT applications filed with China as RO for all 2019. At this time last year, China as RO, had 24,094 PCT applications filed indicating the pace of filing will likely pick up in the second half of this year.
Using World Intellectual Property Organization data to search by applicant origin instead of using the Receiving Office data provided by CNIPA shows that U.S. origin applications numbered 57,705 in 2019 versus 59,045 for China origin applications. China will almost certainly attain 60,000 PCT filings for 2020 as the “Main Indicators of Intellectual Property Protection and Application in the Thirteenth Five-Year Plan” require it:
Filings are supported by generous subsidies provided by local governments. For example, Shanghai city provides 50,000 RMB in subsidies (~$7,100 USD) for each foreign patent granted (up to five) through a PCT application. Further, the Pudong District of Shanghai and the Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park each provided 100,000 RMB in rewards for foreign patent grants (the policies have since been removed from their respective websites).
However, this top down approach to PCT filings and generous subsidies though doesn’t guarantee the quality of filings made. Note, there are no main IP indicators for patent quality in the main indicators chart above. The 14th 5-year plan is currently under consideration though so perhaps patent quality will be one of the future indicators.
The following charts show year on year Chinese domestic filings. As can be seen, the filings of utility models and invention patent applications has accelerated further in June 2020 likely leading to a record filing year.