Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Patents in China: present boom, future prospects

Chinese patents are
now showing their teeth
Who's Who Legal (WWL) has published an encouraging item on the way things are going in IP: "Patents 2017: Trends and Conclusions", as its name suggests, takes a look at the patent scene and acknowledges that this trend is decidedly upward. The subtitle, "China and the Global Patent Landscape", reflects the now well-established fact that, whatever one may think of the quality of Chinese-originating patents and of the vagaries of Chinese business strategies for expanding patent portfolios into markets other than the vast domestic one, it is Chinese patent filing that has driven the astonishing growth in that IP sector.

While the WWL piece focuses only on patents, readers may want to reflect on the contrasting fate of different intellectual property rights in the world's most populous jurisdiction. Patents are now viewed much more positively than they were a decade or so ago, and this is demonstrated both by the country's increasing commitment to their protection and by a momentous increasing volume of patent infringement litigation -- a sign of confidence in the system if ever there was one, since patent litigation is an expensive business and no sane patent owner willingly throws bad money after good by suing infringers where there is no reasonable prospect of success. In contrast with patents, both trade marks and copyrights appear to be less easy to guard against the unwanted attention of counterfeiters and copyists. This may be because, while Chinese applicants are responsible for the great majority of local patents, the bulk of desirable brands and copyright works that can be most profitably exploited by unlicensed third parties originate from outside the country.

One thing that the WWL feature does not mention at all is patent analytics. Developments over the past few years have occurred more or less without the assistance of the sophisticated tools, of which Aistemos' Cipher is one, that are designed to assist businesses and investors in generating and understanding available patent and commercial data at the level necessary for taking the right market views and making the right calls at those critical junctures where ever-changing technologies meet ever-evolving markets. Prospects for future growth in patent-related investment and product development can only be enhanced once the power of analytics is harnessed to prudent human judgment. With the benefit of analytics, the better and more effective use of patents in encouraging and protecting investment in innovation can only be enhanced, both in China and beyond.

You can read Patents 2017: Trends and Conclusions in full by clicking here.

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