2016 was the year of Chinese patents. Overall, 233,000 applications were filed under WIPO’s Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) – which constitutes a 7.3 percent increase compared with the previous year. Chinese applicants are responsible for 98% of the overall growth in demand for international patent applications. Since 2002, China-based filers have recorded double-digit growth each year. If this trend continues, China will overtake the U.S. within two years as the largest user of the PCT System.
China’s ZTE Corporation overtook its rival Huawei Technologies as the biggest filer of international patent applications in another year of strong demand for WIPO’s intellectual property filing services.
Applications in digital communications and computer technology showed the greatest activity by sector. Thus, Chinese innovative companies are further globalizing their businesses, as the country is further developing its strategic goals manifested in the “Made in China 2025” plan.
For international companies, it is essential to both gap-free protect their own IP rights in China as well as to monitor the activities of Chinese competition through research and analysis of Chinese patents. Otherwise, freedom to operate, which is crucial for growth and success in the increasingly globalized, knowledge-based economy, is at stake both in the Chinese and export markets.