Chinese national policy to obtain swarms of patents and the distortion of metrics

An earlier post delved into patent filings as benchmarkable numbers that can lose reliability (See my post of Nov. 22, 2010: degradation of inflated patent metrics.). If a general counsel wants to compare performances, all comes undone if the basis for comparison collapses.

The point comes through even more clearly from an article in the NY Times, Jan. 2, 2011 at BU 3. China’s announced goal for annual patent filings by 2015 is two million, both utility and invention patents. The article suggests that invention patents, the only kind in the American system, might account for roughly half that ambitious number (See my post of Oct. 3, 2010: estimate of 300,000 applications in China in 2009.). Even so, that would be twice the number in the United States. During the US government’s fiscal year 2009, patent filings in the US totaled slightly more than 480,000. I do not know whether the patent filings in the US include everyone who files, or whether the Chinese goal covers only patents filed by Chinese inventors.

To boost the number of patents, China announced in a government policy document that it intends to roughly double its number of patent examiners by 2015, to 9,000. (The US has 6,300 examiners.). Further, the Chinese government will award cash bonuses, better housing for individual filers and tax breaks for prolific companies (See my post of Dec. 13, 2010: Chinese inventors eligible by law for compensation.).

If such a government-sponsored tsunami actually breaks, patent metrics will be distorted.

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