Thursday, July 28, 2011

Sobering Statistics Put China's Innovation Into Perspective

In the graphical perspective,
things become smaller if the distance
from the observer increases
Professor Anil Gupta and Haiyan Wang, writers of the book 'Getting China and India right', put China's innovation statistics into perspective.

Patent filings in 2008
  • U.S.A. 400,769 filings
  • Japan 502,054 filings
  • China 203,481 filings
Gupta and Wang have a point when they argue that the Chinese inventions patented outside China are a more objective measure than the ones registered by State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO).
The most compelling statistic is the number for triadic patents or triadic patent families (patents that origin from one country but that are patented by the European Patent Office, United States Patent and Trademark Office and the Japan Patent Office).

Triadic patent families according to Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 2008
  • Europe 14,525 filings
  • U.S.A. 14,399 filings
  • Japan 13,446 filings
  • China 473 filings
See the Compendium on Patent Statistics for 2008 here (pdf) on page 6. 

However, I would argue that these patent filings are not the best measure. Patent registrations would be a far more better indication of patent quality. 

Professor Gupta and Mr Wang wrote: in 2010 China accounted for
  • 20% of the world's population
  • 9% of the world's GDP
  • 12% of the world's R&D expenditure
  • 1% of the patent filings with or patents granted by any of the leading patent offices outside China. 
  • 50 % of the China-origin patents were granted to subsidiaries of foreign multinationals   
Professor Gupta's and Mr Wang's Wall Street Journal article 'China's Innovation Is A Paper Tiger' can be read here and should not be confused with the title of my thesis 'Paper Tiger Or Roaring Dragon, China's TRIPs Implementations and Enforcement'.

UPDATE August 2, 2011
Joff Wild, editor of Intellectual Asset Management gives an update since 2008. In short: the growth in the number of China's triadic patent filings/grants paints a rosy picture. However China's innovation prospect is much bleaker. On this I concur with Mr Wild. Read more about the relation between innovation and intellectual property and innovation and censorship here.

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