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Determinants of foreign patents in China


  • Sun, Yifei


This study examines patterns of foreign patents and their determinants in China from 1985 to 1999. It reveals that China's patent system is not significantly different from those in most countries, though it is more oriented towards promoting technology diffusion rather than protecting inventors' rights. Since China patent law came into force in 1985, foreign patents, as well as China's domestic patents have been growing rapidly. The study confirms the substantial differences between foreign patents in China and China's domestic patents revealed by previous studies. First, foreign patents primarily fall within the category of inventions, whereas the majority of Chinese domestic patents consist of utility models and industrial designs. Second, foreign patents in China are largely awarded to organizations, while individuals comprise the majority of Chinese domestic patentees. Third, foreign patents in China concentrate in a small number of advanced and newly industrialized economies (NIEs). In addition, this study finds that foreign patents in China are primarily driven by demand factors such as imports from the origin countries, while innovative capabilities of the origin countries or their distances from China are not very significant yet. Finally, this study reveals that innovative capabilities of foreign countries are starting to show significant impacts on their patents in China, particularly on inventions, indicating increasing competition in the Chinese market.

Suggested Citation

  • Sun, Yifei, 2003. "Determinants of foreign patents in China," World Patent Information, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 27-37, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:worpat:v:25:y:2003:i:1:p:27-37

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. van Zeebroeck, Nicolas & van Pottelsberghe de la Potterie, Bruno & Guellec, Dominique, 2009. "Claiming more: the Increased Voluminosity of Patent Applications and its Determinants," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(6), pages 1006-1020, July.
    2. Bruno van Pottelsberghe de la Potterie & Didier François, 2009. "The Cost Factor in Patent Systems," Journal of Industry, Competition and Trade, Springer, vol. 9(4), pages 329-355, December.
    3. Archontopoulos, Eugenio & Guellec, Dominique & Stevnsborg, Niels & van Pottelsberghe de la Potterie, Bruno & van Zeebroeck, Nicolas, 2007. "When small is beautiful: Measuring the evolution and consequences of the voluminosity of patent applications at the EPO," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 103-132, June.
    4. Guellec, Dominique & Pottelsberghe de la Potterie, Bruno v., 2000. "Applications, grants and the value of patent," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 109-114, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Li, Hao-Chung & Lee, Wen-Chieh & Ko, Bo-Ting, 2017. "What determines misallocation in innovation? A study of regional innovation in China," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 221-237.
    2. Christian O. Fisch & Joern H. Block & Philipp G. Sandner, 2016. "Chinese university patents: quantity, quality, and the role of subsidy programs," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 41(1), pages 60-84, February.
    3. Liu, Li-jun & Cao, Cong & Song, Min, 2014. "China's agricultural patents: How has their value changed amid recent patent boom?," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 106-121.
    4. Maria Comune & Alireza Naghavi & Giovanni Prarolo, 2011. "Intellectual Property Rights and South-North Formation of Global Innovation Networks," Center for Economic Research (RECent) 069, University of Modena and Reggio E., Dept. of Economics "Marco Biagi".
    5. Wunsch-Vincent, Sacha & Kashcheeva, Mila & Zhou, Hao, 2015. "International patenting by Chinese residents: Constructing a database of Chinese foreign-oriented patent families," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 198-219.
    6. repec:eee:worbus:v:53:y:2018:i:2:p:164-176 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Kroll, Henning, 2015. "Exploring pathways of regional technological development in China through patent analysis," Working Papers "Firms and Region" R1/2015, Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (ISI).
    8. M. Comune & A. Naghavi & G. Prarolo, 2011. "Intellectual Property Rights and South-North Global Innovation Networks," Working Papers wp764, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
    9. Keupp, Marcus Matthias & Friesike, Sascha & von Zedtwitz, Maximilian, 2012. "How do foreign firms patent in emerging economies with weak appropriability regimes? Archetypes and motives," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(8), pages 1422-1439.
    10. Christian Fisch & Tobias Hassel & Philipp Sandner & Joern Block, 2015. "University patenting: a comparison of 300 leading universities worldwide," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 40(2), pages 318-345, April.
    11. Chen, Kaihua & Guan, Jiancheng, 2011. "Mapping the functionality of China's regional innovation systems: A structural approach," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 11-27, March.
    12. repec:spr:scient:v:101:y:2014:i:1:d:10.1007_s11192-013-1191-5 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Yang, Deli, 2008. "Pendency and grant ratios of invention patents: A comparative study of the US and China," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(6-7), pages 1035-1046, July.


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