China’s dysfunctional patent flood

How poor patents hinder tech transfer in China

Although labs throughout China are turning out high profile biomedical studies at an impressive clip, the country still lags in its ability to commercialize valuable discoveries. A new study argues this is because bad patents are destroying the value of the nation’s best science.

The report from the Chinese technology transfer firm Sinoipro provides insight into the reasons behind the failure to protect valuable IP, and argues the problem won’t change without a fundamental realignment of the government’s incentives that reward patent proliferation over quality.

Founded in 2007, Sinoipro IP Management & Technology Transfer Co. Ltd. was one of the first contract technology transfer companies in China. It employs about 60 tech transfer specialists and provides services to at least 20 universities, as well as several research institutions in the Chinese Academy of Science.

“China has a lot of good inventions but they are being ruined by all these bad patents that kill their commercial potential,” CEO Gordon Zong told BioCentury.

Sinoipro vetted 1,000 Chinese patents, including from life science researchers, and concluded less than 5% had any commercial potential, compared to the 50% typically found in the U.S.

Zong’s view was echoed by Tony Chen, a partner at the law firm Jones Day in Shanghai who specializes in intellectual property. “It is rare for a patent application coming through the university patent mill to be high quality,” he told BioCentury.

“China has a lot of good inventions but they are being ruined by all these bad patents that kill their commercial potential.”

Gordon

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