China’s patent applications rebound to pre-pandemic level in first four months this year

By Jiang Jianke, Gu Yekai, People’s Daily
The year-on-year growth of China’s patent applications bounced back rapidly in the first four months this year to the pre-pandemic level, according to statistics. High-tech firms remained the major applicants, while a surge was witnessed in the emerging sectors that are considered new driving forces for the country’s development.
Pandemic response accelerated the transition of market entities’ development philosophies, making them attach more importance to sci-tech innovation.
Domestic patent application experienced rapid recovery, said Ge Shu, head of the planning and development division of China’s National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA).
From January to April, more than 1.32 million patent applications were filed in China, representing a 5.7-percent growth from a year ago. The year-on-year growth, based on monthly analysis, presented a V shape on diagram.
The number of domestic patent filings plunged by 33.2 percent in February from a year ago due to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), but it picked up in March with a year-on-year growth of 10.5 percent, and then further increased by 15.7 percent in April.
The quick recovery fully demonstrated the proactive response to the pandemic development of market entities, who sought transformation and upgrading from innovation.
Patent applications filed by enterprises were the first to achieve positive growth, increasing 8.1 percent year on year in the January-April period, 2.3 percentage points higher than the overall growth in the country. A total of 259,000 invention patent applications were filed by enterprises in this period, increasing 4.2 percent from a year ago, and 4.8 percentage points higher than the overall growth in the country.
A total of 65,000 enterprises in the Chinese mainland filed invention patent applications in the first four months this year, 29,000, or 44.6 percent of which were high-tech firms.
Emerging industries are spawning new driving forces for development through innovation. The proportion of new-generation IT enterprises in invention patent applicants rose 1.8 percentage points from a year ago in the January-April period.
The accelerating update of innovative technologies such as the Internet, big data, cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI), and robotics, as well as the emerging new business models are injecting new impetus into the long-term and stable development of the Chinese economy.
The number of foreign patent filings in China generally remained stable. From January to April, foreign applicants filed 60,000 patent applications in China, down by 1.7 percent from the same period a year before.
Around 10,000 applications came from Belt and Road countries, up 3.8 percent from a year ago, and 5.5 percentage points higher than the growth of the total applicants filed from overseas
Steady progress has been achieved by Chinese innovators regarding international patent application, according to Ge.
The number of PCT patent applications filed by Chinese kept rapid growth, increasing 18.3 percent from a year ago to 17,000. According to the latest statistics, the number of invention patent filings submitted by Chinese applicants to authorities in the U.S., Europe, Japan, and South Korea increased by 15.1 percent year on year in Q1 this year.
Chinese enterprises have effectively eased financial difficulties by pledging their patents. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the CNIPA has promptly rolled out policies and measures to support enterprises regarding intellectual property pledge financing, and established “green channel” for registration of pledge, in a bid to help enterprises raise funds quickly and renew loans. From January to April, enterprises across the country raised a total of 38.4 billion yuan (about $5.41 billion) through patent pledge, logging a 35.7-percent year-on-year growth. 
The January-April statistics on patent applications indicated the increasingly enhanced efforts of domestic market entities to drive development through innovation, which proved that the country’s industrial transformation and upgrading won’t be changed by the pandemic, Ge said.
Besides, the stable foreign patent applications in China also manifested the attraction of the Chinese market, Ge added, noting that foreign enterprises remain bullish about the prospects of the Chinese economy, and are confident in the long-term development of the Chinese market.

An employee of a new energy enterprise in Huainan, east China’s Anhui province manufactures cells of lithium-ion batteries, on April 23, 2020. (Photo by Chen Bin/People’s Daily Online)

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