China has seen a big improvement in intellectual property rights (IPRs) protection, with patent applications increasing by over 20 percent for five consecutive years, said the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO).
Both domestic and foreign companies have attached great importance to patent applications, the SIPO said.
In 2005, the SIPO received 476,264 patent applications, according to its annual report.
"In the first four months of this year we have received 155,800 patent applications, an increase of 20 percent compared with the same period of last year," said Lu Guoliang, director-general of the International Cooperation Department of the SIPO.
Last year Samsung Electronics of South Korea was the top foreign corporation in terms of patent applications in China, submitting 3,508 during the year.
Japan's Matsushita Electric ranked second on the list and Royal Philips of the Netherlands was third.
Among the top 10 corporations, five are from Japan and three are from South Korea.
IBM was the only US company that appeared on the top 10 list.
As for domestic firms, Huawei Technology topped the number of patent applications last year, with 3,409.
Other domestic companies on the top 10 list include ZTE Telecommunications, Chongqing Li Fan (Group) and Chang An Auto (Group).
According to the SIPO, most of the domestic applications were patents for utility models and industrial designs, while the majority of the foreign patents were for inventions.
However, in terms of patents for inventions, domestic applications increased much more than foreign ones.
China was listed among the top 10 countries for patent applications for the first time in 2005.
The fast growth in patent applications can be attributed to the nation's policy of encouraging self-innovation, said Sun Pingping from the SIPO.
Sun said companies have become the largest applicants in recent years, replacing those from individuals. Patentees from academic or research institutes are another important part of the total number of applications.
(China Daily May 31, 2006)