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Is the Dragon Learning to Fly? An Analysis of the Chinese Patent Explosion

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  • Markus Eberhardt
  • Christian Helmers
  • Zhihong Yu

Abstract

This paper analyses characteristics and determinants of the recent explosion of patent filings by Chinese firms both in China and the United States. We construct a firm-level dataset by matching USPTO and SIPO patents to Chinese manufacturing census data for the period 1999-2006. Using this integrated firm-level dataset, we show that the patent explosion is accounted for by a tiny, highly select group of Chinese companies in the information & communication technology (ICT) equipment industry. This handful of ICT companies accounts for nearly all Chinese USPTO patent filings as well as the vast majority of domestic SIPO patents despite there being a larger number of Chinese companies distributed across a wider range of industries that seeks patent protection domestically. Our empirical analysis further suggests that firms patenting in both US and China are considerably younger, larger and substantially more export-oriented than firms patenting exclusively in China. Our study contributes to the debate on China’s innovative prowess and its potential to transition from an imitator to an innovator economy.

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Paper provided by Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford in its series CSAE Working Paper Series with number 2011-15.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:csa:wpaper:2011-15

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Keywords: China; firm; patents.;

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Lee Branstetter & Guangwei Li & Francisco Veloso, 2014. "The Rise of International Co-invention," NBER Chapters, in: The Changing Frontier: Rethinking Science and Innovation Policy National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Marc J. Melitz & Daniel Trefler, 2012. "Gains from Trade When Firms Matter," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 26(2), pages 91-118, Spring.
  3. Prud'homme, Dan, 2012. "How certain indigenous innovation and other patent policies hamper innovation in China," MPRA Paper 51710, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Dec 2012.
  4. Wan-Hsin Liu, 2012. "The Role of Proximity to Universities for Corporate Patenting - Provincial Evidence from China," Kiel Working Papers 1796, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
  5. Prud'homme, Dan, 2012. "Dulling the Cutting Edge: How Patent-Related Policies and Practices Hamper Innovation in China," MPRA Paper 43299, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Dec 2012.
  6. Flaaen, Aaron & Ghani, Ejaz & Mishra, Saurabh, 2013. "How to avoid middle income traps ? evidence from Malaysia," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6427, The World Bank.
  7. Naudé, Wim & Szirmai, Adam & Lavopa, Alejandro, 2013. "Industrialization Lessons from BRICS: A Comparative Analysis," IZA Discussion Papers 7543, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Wan-Hsin Liu, 2013. "The role of proximity to universities for corporate patenting: provincial evidence from China," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer, vol. 51(1), pages 273-308, August.

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