Published: 11:14, December 12, 2023 | Updated: 11:22, December 12, 2023
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China filed more IP than rest of world combined in 2022
By ​Wang Xin in Shanghai

Nation accounts for around half of total patent, trademark, design applications

Director-General of World Intellectual Property Organization Daren Tang delivers a speech during the opening session of the Business of IP Asia Forum at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre on Dec 1, 2022. (ANDY CHONG / CHINA DAILY)

China has transformed its intellectual property and innovation system over the past 50 years, and has become the world's largest filer of IP across all categories including patents, trademarks and designs, Daren Tang, director-general of the World Intellectual Property Organization, said on the sidelines of the 20th Shanghai International Intellectual Property Forum, which concluded on Sunday.

Tang noted that China filed for more IP than the rest of the world combined last year, which is a "testament" to the importance and efforts that the Chinese government has paid to intellectual property and innovation protection over the past five decades.

According to the WIPO's World Intellectual Property Indicators 2023 report, China submitted over 1.6 million patent applications, more than 2.9 million utility model applications and nearly 800,000 industrial design applications, accounting for 46.8 percent, 98 percent and 53.8 percent of the world's applications, respectively.

"As China develops into an innovation digital economy, IP will continue to be very important to the Chinese economy," said Tang.

He pointed out that IP is not something exclusive to benefiting big companies in advanced industrialized countries, but also belongs to "those innovative and creative at the grassroots level, especially in developing countries".

"For many countries, IP remains a very technical and mysterious subject. We want to demystify IP and bring it down to the grassroots. A lot of the work that the WIPO does is to help people use IP to bring their ideas to the market, protect them and help them become commercialized — whether it is a business idea or a creative idea," Tang explained.

He noted that he has seen Chinese companies become increasingly innovative and enterprising.

"Chinese companies are not just looking at IP as a form of registration or as a legal right, but using IP to grow their business. I think that's very good for the Chinese economy, because as China pushes toward science, technology and innovation to grow its economy, intellectual property is very important for the strategy," he said.

In July, two Chinese technology companies, Shanghai Westwell Technology and Xi'an KissFuture Network Technology, won this year's WIPO Global Awards for their creative use of IP in logistics and the cultural sector.

China began cooperating with the WIPO in 1973, and officially joined the international organization in 1980.

Tang described the WIPO's cooperation with China as "very broad and very deep". Following "a very extraordinary development of China's innovation system in the last 50 years", the WIPO is looking to further bolster cooperation with China.

"Overall, I think what we want to do is to help China look at IP from a holistic point of view. Wherever in China, if you have a good idea, you can use IP as a method, or a tool, to bring the idea to the market," he added.

During his visit to Shanghai last week, Tang signed a memorandum of understanding between the WIPO and the Shanghai People's Government, illustrating the city's vital role in the global IP ecosystem.

Tang lauded Shanghai for securing fifth position in the WIPO's Global Innovation Index 2023 top science and technology clusters, acknowledging the city's prowess in IP education and dispute resolution. He spotlighted the success of the WIPO-Tongji University Joint Master's Program, which aims to foster more IP experts, as well as the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Shanghai Service.