The China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) has presented the registration figures for 2019. Foreign applications of intellectual property in China increased again last year. In 2019, the number of patent applications of inventions filed by foreign applicants reached 157,000, an increase of 6% over the previous year. The number of foreign trademark applications rose to 255,000, an increase of 4.7%.
The United States ranked first in trademark applications with 54,000, an increase of 5.3% over 2018. Japan ranked second with 31,000 applications, an increase of 21.2% over the previous year. In third place came the United Kingdom with 24,000 applications, a very high increase of 42.4% over the previous year. This may reflect the brexite-related orientation of British companies towards China.
CNIPA attributes this growth to stricter IP legislation and the consistent prosecution of infringements. Since 2019, China has enacted a number of laws, regulations and guidelines to protect intellectual property, including the Foreign Investment Law. These regulations are designed to create a fairer, more transparent and predictable business environment for foreign investors.
In addition, the industry watchdog has taken measures against abnormal filings and trademark hoarding. These include an online patent quality monitoring system, which registered 38,000 abnormal patent applications last year, and the approval of 26 IP centres nationwide, which will help reduce processing times and the cost of protecting intellectual property rights.
Last year, the average processing time for trademark registrations was reduced to 4.5 months, compared to six months in 2018. The processing time for examinations of high-quality patents was reduced by approximately 15% to 17.3 months. By the end of 2022, the processing time for a patent application is expected to be reduced to about 16.5 months for a patent application of high quality to 13.8 months. The average time for processing a trademark application will be reduced to four months – the fastest procedure worldwide.