China made more than 20,000 applications to the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), the international agreement which offers innovators protection in 148 countries simultaneously. That made it the country with the third greatest number of applications.
An increasing number of innovators are turning to foreign lawyers with experience of the international intellectual property market for both international and domestic patent applications, rather than China's own SIPO registered patent agencies and professional practicing agents, according to the state-owned newspaper China Daily. According to the newspaper only 60% of all domestic and foreign patent applications filed last year were processed through patent agencies - a 15% drop from 10 years ago. And some major innovators are taking measures to do more of their own intellectual property work, the newspaper said.
Chinese telecommunication company Huawei Technologies developed an intellectual property rights department of 300 staff in 1995, which has processed almost half the applications of its more than 30,000 international patents, Cheng Xuxin, deputy director of Huawei's intellectual property rights department told China Daily.
"When we have to apply for patents in overseas markets, we tend to entrust foreign attorneys or agencies, as local agencies lack the experience to handle foreign affairs," Cheng told a symposium of the All-China Patent Attorneys Association (ACPAA), according to the newspaper.
ACPAA President Yang Wu said: "Understanding the current global IP structure built by western countries is crucial for Chinese agencies," he said.
Increased interest in the international intellectual property market comes amid increasing demand for patents across the board in China.
According to SIPO China accepted almost 2.4 million patent applications in 2013, the highest number of patents filed in any country for the third year running, China Daily said. This included 825,000 invention patents, a rise of 26.3% on the previous year, and 1,881,500 applications of trademark registration, which is up 14.15% on 2012, according to SIPO. Overall more than1.31 million patents were authorised in China, SIPO said. That accounted for patent agency industry income of more than $1.4 billion, including application and management fees, the symposium heard.
"The skyrocketing demand in the patent application processing each year shows how big the industry is going to be, and the industry is far from realizing its potential," He Hua, deputy commissioner of SIPO told the Symposium.