China's central government is making moves to improve protection and use of intellectual property (IP), with figures showing that China has become the third country in the world to register one million active domestic patents, following only the United States and Japan.
The State Council, China's cabinet, issued new guidelines on the development of IP in the country, laying out the goals and major tasks for intellectual property rights (IPR) protection and usage as part of the current Five-Year Plan, which covers the period between last year and 2020.
Among the highlights, the guidelines call for the improvement of rules and regulations related to IPR in newly emerging fields, including e-commerce and big data.
"The plan has set out a number of goals we are aiming to achieve in the development of IP by 2020, including an overall improvement to its protection, practical application and competiveness," said Gan Shaoning, Deputy Director of the State Intellectual Property Office.
It is also expected that patent ownership will increase from 6.3 per 10,000 people in 2015 to 12 per 10,000 in 2020. Additionally, IP royalties earned abroad are expected to rise from 4.4 billion US dollars in 2015 to 10 billion dollars in 2020.
"China received 1.1 million patent applications in 2015, making us the first country in the world to surpass the one-million mark. We had one million active domestic patents last year, only after the United States and Japan. Our current IP regulations are providing the basic protection of innovation, but we still face two major challenges – we need more patents on core technologies and more diversified allocation of patents," said Gong Yalin, another official with the State Intellectual Property Office.
China's IP authorities say the country has established a complete and internationally recognized legal system for IPR protection with Chinese characteristics, which incorporates both administrative and judicial protection. However, Gan admitted that there is room for improvement, noting that China has a short history with IPR.
"China is willing to enhance IPR cooperation and share our experiences of development with our counterparts across the world. At the same time, we oppose unfounded accusations and abuse of IPR to exercise trade protectionism," said Gan.
Over the past five years, Chinese authorities have launched 14 sets of laws and regulations involving IPR, in addition to investigating 87,000 cases of patent infringement. During that same period, China has entered IPR-related agreements with 63 other countries.