ADVERTISEMENT
See Inside Scientific American Volume 309, Issue 4

The Truth about China’s Patent Boom

Why China's surge in international patents marks the emergence of a new, international form of research and development
Number of Patents graphic



Pitch Interactive

Countries generally do not start creating much new-to-the-world technology until they are pretty wealthy—specifically, until their per capita output and income approach that of the world's richest countries. China is still quite poor. As recently as 2010, its per capita income was less than one-tenth that of the U.S. Yet according to the official data, Chinese businesses increased their R&D spending by 26.2 percent per year between 1996 and 2010. The number of patents that America's own patent office has granted to Chinese inventors rose 4,628 percent between 1996 and 2010. What is going on here?

A close look at these patent filings reveals that multinational corporations, not Chinese firms, own the majority of the U.S. patents that were issued during this recent boom. In other words, Chinese indigenous companies still lag behind their multinational competitors in generating inventions that get patented in major foreign markets.

This is only a preview. Get the rest of this article now!

Select an option below:

Customer Sign In

*You must have purchased this issue or have a qualifying subscription to access this content


It has been identified that the institution you are trying to access this article from has institutional site license access to Scientific American on nature.com.
Click here to access this article in its entirety through site license access.

Rights & Permissions
Share this Article:

Comments

You must sign in or register as a ScientificAmerican.com member to submit a comment.
Scientific American Special Universe

Get the latest Special Collector's edition

Secrets of the Universe: Past, Present, Future

Order Now >

X

Email this Article

X