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Heavy investment pushes up US patents

Published on 02/08 2018  Source: China Daily


Manufacturers develop own brands to break into global market
Shoulder to shoulder with top tech from around the globe, BOE Technology Group's world-first 75-inch 8K ultra-high-definition intelligent displays took center stage at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show in January in Las Vegas, the United States.
The HD display technologies developed by Beijing-based BOE have been patented in the US, in line with the company's strategy of expanding into the overseas market, according to China Intellectual Property News.
BOE was granted more than 1,400 patents in the US last year, surging 62 percent from 2016, which improved its ranking in the top 50 corporate patentees chart from 40th to 21st in the country.
With over 60,000 patents in China and abroad, the company ranked No 1 globally in terms of shipments of liquid crystal displays used in smartphones, tablets and laptops, last year. Its shipments of LCD television displays took the third place worldwide in 2017, according to BOE.
Another Chinese display producer, Shenzhen Huaxing Photoelectric Technology, has also been applying for patents in the US. The Shenzhen-based company ranked 45th on the corporate patentees list, with the number of its US patents increasing to 708, an increase of 33 percent year-on-year.
With increasing number of proprietary patents, a growing group of Chinese companies are establishing their own brands.
The stockpiles of patents have put an entirely new complexion on the business models of Chinese electronics manufacturers, which primarily focused on assembling parts for foreign brands a decade ago, due to a shortage of their own patented technologies.
"Ownership of patents, especially high-value invention patents, reflects the innovation capacity of a company or even a country," said Sun Guorui, a law professor at Beihang University in Beijing.
From low-profile players on the global innovation landscape in the past, to frequently being listed in influential international rankings nowadays, Chinese companies have performed impressively, he added. This partially reflects marked progress in China's innovation-driven development strategy and its endeavor to build itself into an IP powerhouse.
China joined the ranks of the top five US patent sources in 2017. Information and communications technologies - including digital communications, semiconductors, telecommunications and optics - are the mainstays of the US patents granted to Chinese companies.
Behind its rising innovation capacity, China is also experiencing an influx of investment.
The average annual expenditure on research and development increased by more than 18 percent in China between 2000 and 2015, while US R&D spending grew 4 percent during the same period, according to Science and Engineering Indicators released by the US National Science Foundation in January.
"Although emerging economies start at a lower base and therefore tend to grow much more rapidly, China's growth rate is exceptional," the foundation said.
The 2018 report, which examines the science and engineering landscape in the US and around the world, found that venture capital investment, which supports the commercialization of emerging technologies, totaled more than $130 billion globally in 2016.
Roughly 26 percent of the venture capital funds went to China in that year, ranking the country the second largest destination, after the US, which attracted more than half of the global total.
From 2013 to 2016, venture capital in China rose from approximately $3 billion to $34 billion, climbing from 5 percent to 27 percent of the global share, the fastest increase of any economy.
Heavy investment has helped China to become the second-largest high-tech manufacturer, contributing 24 percent of global production in industries including aircraft and spacecraft, semiconductors, computers, pharmaceuticals, and measuring and control instruments, according to the report.
"IP is increasingly becoming a new focus of international competition," Sun said. "Chinese companies need to increase their R&D spending and generate more high-quality patents in a bid to sharpen their edge in the increasingly fierce international market competition."