From ‘World’s Factory Floor’ to ‘Global Pioneer’: China’s Shaky Move to Promote Innovation


China’s endeavor to generate millions of new patents in forthcoming years – as evidenced by a move from a “made in China” to a “designed in China” economic model – will inhibit standards of innovation according to a European study.

The paradigm shift stems from China’s desire to move away from being perceived as the “world’s factory floor into a global pioneer”, and has resulted in more than 1.6 million patent applications filed in 2011, according to a report by the European Union Chamber of Commerce.  However, the report went on to reveal that only 32 percent of these applications adhered to the highest threshold for patent quality.

European chamber secretary general Dirk Moens asserted: “This explosion [of patent applications] has come with a price in terms of the quality and mix of patents. This is not in the right direction”.  Several factors contributing the massive disparity between filed and successful patent applications include performance evaluations and financial incentives for state-owned firms.

Furthermore, patents are given to designs and “utility models” in China, which scarcely result in technological breakthroughs. Also, China’s weak intellectual property rights (IPR) have deterred various firms from filing patents and transferring technology to China.  These aforementioned variables have negatively affected the number of highest quality patents filed in China.

China seemingly has work to do – both within and beyond its borders – in order to usher in a era of greater quality innovation.

Photo Credit: MoBikeFed


About: Tracy Ayodele

Tracy Ayodele is a Canadian lawyer, called to the Bar of Ontario, and a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School. She has a keen interest in IP policy, social innovation and the intersection of technology, development and start-up culture in emerging economies. She is a spirited legal researcher and writer, and co-authored “Hot-tubbing in Canadian Patent Litigation: A Preliminary Assessment” published in the Intellectual Property Journal.

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