China is moving to improve quality and structure of its patents amid the country's drive to foster innovation-driven development, a senior intellectual property (IP) official said on Tuesday.
"Though China is a big patent country, it is not a strong one," said Shen Changyu, director of the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO), at a press conference.
Compared with developed countries, China has fewer patents featuring originality, and high or core value, Shen said.
The country has witnessed a continuous increase in the number of patent applications in recent years.
The government accepted nearly 2.38 million patent applications and authorized over 1.31 million in 2013. The number of invention patent applications was 825,000, up 26.3 percent year on year.
It is the first time in five years invention patent applications took up more than one third of the three types of applications, said Shen. The other two types are utility model and design.
"The patent application structure was further improved in the first quarter of 2014, as nearly 40 percent of applications were invention patent," said Shen.
To improve quality of patents, the SIPO is taking measures to tighten the authorization of low quality patents, increase proportion of invention patents, and favor patents of high technical value and with more promising market prospects, according to Shen.
China has strengthened protection and law enforcement of IP rights.
About 53,000 people suspected of IP rights infringement and producing and selling fake goods were seized by police in 2013.
They were involved in about 59,000 cases with an estimated value of 40.6 billion yuan (about 6.51 billion U.S. dollars), figures released by the SIPO during the press conference showed.
Courts nationwide accepted 88,583 civil cases and 2,886 administrative cases of IP rights infringement last year and closed about 10,000 related cases, according to SIPO figures.
The Chinese government has invested hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars in buying copyrighted software since 2010, when China launched an anti-piracy drive among government agencies, Yan Xiaohong, National Copyright Administration deputy director, told the press conference.
By the end of 2013, all government agencies above county level had been examined, and their practices of buying pirated software had been corrected, Yan said.
In light of increasing IP disputes between China and the United States as trade exchanges enhanced, Shen advised companies to improve self-protection by filing patent applications overseas ahead of entering the international market.
"China has become a major target and the biggest victim of the U.S.'s Section 337 probe," Shen said, encouraging Chinese companies under investigation to respond actively.
Section 337 investigations conducted by the U.S. International Trade Commission usually involve claims concerning intellectual property rights, including patent and trademark infringement allegations on imported goods.
Chinese companies should be good at and have the courage to use IP rules to safeguard their own rights in the face of disputes, he said.