A great wall of patents: What is behind China's recent patent explosion?
China's patent surge, documented in this paper, is seemingly paradoxical given the country's weak record of protecting intellectual property rights. Using a firm-level data set that spans the population of China's large and medium-size industrial enterprises, this paper explores the factors that account for China's rising patent activity. While the intensification of research and development in the Chinese economy tracks with patenting activity, it explains only a fraction of the patent explosion. The growth of foreign direct investment in China is prompting Chinese firms to file for more patent applications. Amendments to the patent law that favor patent holders and ownership reform that has clarified the assignment of property rights also emerge as significant sources of China's patent boom. These results are robust to alternative estimation strategies that account for over-dispersion in the patent counts data and firm heterogeneity.
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