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Patent laws and innovation in China


  • Yueh, Linda


This paper explores whether the patent laws and intellectual property rights (IPR) system in China have resulted in innovation during the reform period. Subject to criticism on account of imperfect enforcement, the patent law system has produced a stock of patents which has grown rapidly alongside economic growth. The success rate of patent applications is similar across the country despite the considerable regional disparities in income and in the level of innovation. This paper presents a simple model of patent production in China derived from the patent law system that also considers the relevant contextual factors that could influence innovation. The main innovation input of R&D personnel is found to be a significant determinant of patents. While per capita GDP increases the propensity to innovate across all regions, notable heterogeneity exists whereby the coastal, central and interior areas are associated with different factors that produce innovation and influence the innovation process. The paper concludes that China's imperfect IPR system is nevertheless generating innovation as the country develops and hinges on the key factor of researchers.

Suggested Citation

  • Yueh, Linda, 2009. "Patent laws and innovation in China," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 304-313, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:irlaec:v:29:y:2009:i:4:p:304-313

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Belton M. Fleisher & Mi Zhou, 2010. "Are Patent Laws Harmful to Developing Countries? Evidence from China," Working Papers 09-07, Ohio State University, Department of Economics.
    2. Shi, Guanming & Pray, Carl E. & Zhang, Wenhui, 2012. "Effectiveness of Intellectual Property Protection: Survey Evidence from China," Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, Northeastern Agricultural and Resource Economics Association, vol. 41(3), December.
    3. repec:elg:eechap:14395_24 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. repec:spr:scient:v:94:y:2013:i:2:d:10.1007_s11192-012-0821-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Linda Yueh, 2010. "The Economy of China," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 3705.
    6. Song Hong, 2013. "The national patent regime and indigenous innovations in compliance with TRIPS: a case study of China," Chapters,in: TRIPS Compliance, National Patent Regimes and Innovation, chapter 5, pages 172-221 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    7. Markus Eberhardt & Christian Helmers & Zhihong Yu, "undated". "Is the Dragon Learning to Fly? An Analysis of the Chinese Patent Explosion," Discussion Papers 11/16, University of Nottingham, GEP.
    8. Huang, Can & Wu, Yilin, 2012. "State-led Technological Development: A Case of China’s Nanotechnology Development," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(5), pages 970-982.

    More about this item


    Intellectual property rights Patent laws Law and economics Innovation Economic growth China;

    JEL classification:

    • O34 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Intellectual Property and Intellectual Capital
    • K29 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - Other
    • O4 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity
    • O53 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Asia including Middle East
    • K19 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Other


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