The China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) has recently released its 2021 Annual Report. We now summarize some of the key information and statistics regarding patents in the Report for you to have an easy overview of the current state of Chinese patent application and prosecution. Please note that there are three types of patents in China, i.e. invention, utility model and design patents.
In 2021, the CNIPA received about 1.58 million invention patent applications, an increase of 5.9% over 2020. Among these applications, 90% were filed by domestic entities, and 10% by foreign entities. We note that the number of applications by foreign entities, about 158,000, is very large and continues to grow.
The CNIPA received about 2.85 million utility model patent applications, a decrease of 2.5% compared to 2020; and about 806,000 design patent applications, an increase of 4.6% over 2020.
For applications from abroad, Japan and the U.S. again were the leading countries of origin, followed by Korea and Germany.
In 2021, 99.1% of all patent application was filed electronically, demonstrating that the option is now fully accepted by applicants.
Over 1.2 million examination procedures of invention patent applications were completed in 2021, with the average pendency time reduced to 18.5 months. The CNIPA launched a special campaign to sort out long-pending cases; and about 217,000 such cases were concluded during the year.
In 2021, about 696,000 invention patents were granted, an increase of 31% over 2020. Among them, about 110,000, or 15.8%, were granted to foreign applicants. The overall grant rate of invention patent applications was 55%.
The CNIPA granted about 3.1 million utility model patents in 2021, an increase of 31% over 2020. The number of granted design patents reached about 786,000, up 7.3% over 2020.
With 7,629 granted invention patents, Huawei again led the ranking of domestic invention patent recipients in 2021, while Samsung led foreign recipients.
As of the end of 2021, about 3.5 million invention patents were in force. Among them, about 77% was held by domestic entities, and about 23% by foreign patentees.
In 2021, the CNIPA received about 73,000 PCT international applications. Among them, about 68,000 were filed by domestic applicants. The CNIPA completed about 78,000 international search reports. The number of PCT applications entering the Chinese national phase reached about 107,000. The vast majority of these applications were invention patent applications, with only 916 utility model patent applications filed through this manner.
Reexaminations and Invalidations
The Reexamination and Invalidation Department of the CNIPA handles both reexamination proceedings (regarding rejections of patent applications) and invalidation proceedings (regarding validity of granted patents). In 2021, the CNIPA received about 76,000 reexamination requests, a significant increase of 39.2% over 2020, and concluded about 54,000 such cases. Among the received and concluded reexamination cases, the vast majority of the cases were invention patent applications. The average pendency time for a reexamination proceeding was 16.4 months.
In 2021, the CNIPA received 7,628 requests for patent invalidation, an increase of 23.5% over 2020. The number of concluded invalidation cases fell slightly to 7,065 cases. Unlike the composition of reexamination cases, 44% of all invalidation cases involved utility model patents, and 34% involved design patents. Only 22% involved invention patents. The average pendency time for invalidation cases was 5.8 months. The overall results of the concluded cases are shown as below.
As you can see, in 2021, Chinese patent application activities, including reexamination and invalidation proceedings, continued to be at very high levels and growing. At the same time, the CNIPA was able to decrease the overall pendency time. While the vast majority of the activities were by domestic entities, foreign entities continued to regard China as a very important jurisdiction. This is demonstrated by the large, and still growing, number of patent applications filed by foreign applicants, at about 158,000, which is more than the number of foreign-originated patent applications received by any Patent Office, except the USPTO.
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