On May 11, 2023, China’s National Intellectual Property Administration released the Report on National Intellectual Property Agency Industry Development Status (2022) (全国知识产权代理行业发展状况（2022年)). In 2022, 645 new patent agencies were established in China, and 5 foreign patent agencies were approved to establish resident representative offices. By the end of 2022, there were 4,520 patent agencies (excluding Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan), 63,311 patent attorneys, 31,347 practicing patent attorneys, and 4,405 litigation representatives. The number of applicants for the 2022 patent attorney qualification examination was 51,511 and the number of passers was 6,775 (a 13.5% pass rate vs. 46.3% in the U.S.).
Some highlights from the Report include:
At present, the number of national patent agencies is still growing rapidly. From 2016 to 2021, the annual growth rate of the number of patent agencies exceeded 20%. In 2022, the growth rate of the number of patent agencies slowed down, but remained at a relatively high level. By the end of 2022, the total number of patent agencies reached 4,520, a year-on-year increase of 586, with an annual growth rate of nearly 15%.
By the end of 2022, the number of trademark agencies nationwide reached 71,466. In 2022, there were 7,569 newly registered trademark agencies and 64 canceled trademark agencies. However, after a re-registration process in 2023 Q1, there are only 18,096 registered trademark agencies nationwide including 16,921 that passed the review and 1,175 new agencies. All registered trademark agencies had to sign a letter of commitment to solemnly promise not to commit bribery, illegal employment, acting as an agent for malicious trademark registration applications, hoarding trademarks, and other irregularities.
In the past ten years, the number of qualified patent attorneys in China has shown a rapid growth trend. The annual growth rate from 2013 to 2015 exceeded 20%; by the end of 2016, the number of patent attorneys had exceeded 30,000; from 2017 to 2020, the number of patent attorneys had increased by more than 5,000 each year; by the end of 2021, more than 60,000 people had obtained patent attorney qualifications. By the end of 2022, a total of 63,311 people have obtained patent attorney qualification certificates, an increase of 254% over 2013.
In the past ten years, the number of practicing patent attorneys in China has also shown a trend of rapid growth. In 2014, the number of practicing patent attorneys exceeded 10,000; in 2019, the number of practicing patent attorneys exceeded 20,000, reaching 20,192; in 2022, the number of practicing patent attorneys reached 31,347, an increase of 16.8% over 2021.
Patent Attorney Examination
The number of applicants for the patent attorney qualification examination is increasing year by year. In the past ten years, there have been two peaks in the number of applicants for the patent attorney qualification examination: the first was in 2013 and 2014, with an annual growth rate of more than 20%; the second was in 2018, and the number of applicants exceeded 39,000. In 2022, the number of applicants for the patent attorney qualification examination hit a new high, reaching 51,511, a year-on-year increase of 8.3%. This contrasts with the USPTO patent bar exam with only 1768 exams in 2022, a 14.2% decrease from 2021.
Blue Sky Crackdown on Intellectual Property Agencies
In 2022, CNIPA continued to further promote the “Blue Sky” special rectification campaign for the intellectual property agency industry, cracking down on illegal agency behaviors including interviewing 1,489 patent agencies, ordering rectification of 923, filing 332 cases, and issuing administrative penalties in 238 cases.
The full text is available here (Chinese only).