Sunday, December 14, 2014

Still underestimating China?

The Economist magazine has a piece this week entitled "Patent Fiction". They take issue with the findings in a Thomson Reuters' report "China IQ (Innovation Quotient)" that looks at the latest data on the growth of invention patent applications.

It is funny how they trot out the old quantity-versus-quality cliche. I predicted that response 4 years ago when this shift was becoming apparent. It indicates a dangerous level of complacency.

The Chinese government has made concrete commitments to IP as an important pillar for their long-term economic policy. This is evident at all levels in China.

Over 5 years ago, I pointed out how China had passed out Japan to become the World's #1 issuer of Chemical patents. I also mentioned 5 years ago about how Renmin University's Intellectual Property Academy had 41 PhD students studying intellectual property law. This Academy had its roots in the Intellectual Property Teaching and Research Centre set up some 33 years ago in 1981. Children as young as six years old are being taught about respect for intellectual property.

Some of the top PhD and postdoctoral students in the USA are from China. Many of them are now encouraged to come back to China and contribute towards building innovation in China.

So when I hear the quantity-versus-quality argument again, I wonder at the myopia of commentators. Sure, incentives to file patents will cause a lot of dubious IP to be generated. But with so many smart people with a high level of IP-consciousness in China, there is bound to be a lot of good-quality inventions coming through.

.... And it is not just a matter of percentages. With the increased experience of filing a lot of patents, quality improves with increased quantity which leads to higher "hit rates" of excellent patents.

No comments:

Post a Comment