Over the last 15 years, United States’ patent applications have steadily increased, patent applications in Japan have significantly decreased, and applications in China have increased at an astonishing rate. Interestingly, these figures mirror global trends.
Perhaps understanding the correlation, two factors support the growth of patent applications in China: First, the Chinese government, industry and private sector recognized the importance of patents and licensing in the global economy. Second, the Chinese government began to actively provide financial support for patent filings. Indeed, if a company achieves certain goals with respect to patent filings, it can be reimbursed between 50 and 100 percent of its filing expenses. That is, a company with a robust patenting program can (under certain circumstances) maintain its program without any related expenses.
The increased number of applications in China has resulted in more patents, which has led to more licensing transactions. In 2004, there were less than 100 licensing transactions. Today, there are more than 10,000 licensing transaction annually. These figures closely track China’s economic growth as well.