Industry status

China Patent Agency State of Industry Report 2020 Released

On August 27, 2021, the National Intellectual Property Administration of China (CNIPA) released a report titled State of Development of Patent Agency Industry (2020) (・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ ・ According to the report, at the end of 2020, the number of Chinese patent practitioners reached 53,090, of which 23,193 are practicing patent attorneys, and there are 3,253 patent agencies (excluding Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan). In contrast, the United States has 47,228 registered patent practitioners while it has about a quarter of the Chinese population and about a third of the invention patent applications filed in China each year.

Patent agencies

At the end of 2020, there were 3,253 patent agencies in China (excluding Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan). Figure 1 shows the evolution of the number of patent agencies in China from 2011 to 2020. From 2011 to 2012, the number of patent agencies across China increased steadily, with 43 newly added in that year. In 2013, the number of agencies nationwide was close to 1,000, and the number of patent agencies began to show a significant growth trend. Since 2013, more than 100 agencies have been added each year. From 2016, the number of patent agencies entered a phase of rapid growth, with an annual growth rate of over 20%, and the growth rate in 2019 compared to 2018 reached 22.7% . At the end of 2020, the total number of patent agencies reached 3,253. Compared with 2019, the number of agencies has increased by more than 500, with an annual growth rate of 20.9%; compared to 2011, it increased by 2,387, an increase of 276%.

In terms of geographic distribution, patent agencies are mainly located in Beijing, Guangdong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Shanghai. In general, patent agencies are spread over all economically developed areas of the east and the coast, and the regional distribution is essentially proportional to the number of patent applications from these provinces and cities.

There are over 220 patent agencies over 20 years old and 755 other agencies over 10 years old.

Patent attorneys (Agents)

At the end of 2020, China had 23,193 practicing patent attorneys. This implies that each patent attorney was responsible for drafting and filing, on average, 63 invention patent applications, 126 other utility models, and 33 other design applications based on the total 2020 filings listed. in the CNIPA annual report for 2020.

Figure 3 shows the evolution of the number of patent attorneys and practicing attorney qualifications from 2011 to 2020. Over the past ten years, the number of people who have obtained patent attorney qualification certificates in China has increased. a trend of rapid growth. From 2011 to 2015, the number of people who obtained qualification certificates of patent attorney increased rapidly. The average annual growth rate from 2011 to 2012 was around 13%, and from 2013 to 2015 it increased to around 23%. Among them, those who obtained patent attorney qualification certificates in 2011 numbered 12,991 and it exceeded 20,000 for the first time in 2014. After 2015, the growth rate slowed slightly, but it is still increasing with a trend of over 5,000 new people each year. By the end of 2020, a total of 53,090 people had obtained patent attorney qualification certificates, an increase of 5,172 people, an annual growth rate of 10.7%.

Chinese Patent Bar Examination

The Patent Attorney Qualifying Examination has been successfully conducted 22 times since 1992. In 2020, a total of 45,241 people registered for the exam and 7,382 people passed the exam to qualify for the patent attorney qualification. patent agent, resulting in a pass rate of approximately 16.1% compared to a U.S. patent bar pass rate of 48.9% in 2020.

Figure 4 shows the registration status for the Patent Attorney Qualifying Examination from 2011 to 2020. The number of applicants for the Patent Attorney Qualifying Examination has increased every year, in contrast to the decrease of 51% in the United States compared to the peak of 2012. In 2020, the number of applicants for the Chinese patent attorney qualification examination reached a new high.

The number of candidates passing the national patent agent qualifying examination is increasing every year. From 2012 to 2014, the number of successful applicants increased rapidly. Since 2015, due to the continuous increase in the number of applicants combined with the increase in the overall difficulty of the exam, the number of successful applicants has increased only slightly.

Since 2004, residents of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and Macao Special Administrative Region have been allowed to take the qualifying examination for patent agents in China. In 2011, the exam was opened to residents of Taiwan. In 2020, a total of 71 applicants from Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, one applicant from Macao Special Administrative Region, and 525 applicants from Taiwan region passed the exam. Since 2021, foreigners have been allowed to take the patent bar exam and statistics on foreigners could be published in next year’s report.

More information is available here (only in Chinese).

© 2021 Schwegman, Lundberg & Woessner, PA All rights reserved.Revue nationale de droit, volume XI, number 241