“China’s agricultural patents on the rise”

Last month, the SciDevNet posted an article highlighting the rise in patent applications for agricultural innovations in China.  Read the full article “China’s agricultural patents on the rise“.

The article quotes authoritative sources bringing to light statistical data that indicates strong innovation trends in China, despite the world financial crisis.  However, the same article also points out the narrow geographical scope of the agricultural patenting (i.e very few patent applications are filed outside of China) and the possible “takeover” of the Chinese agricultural patent market by the foreign companies.  A leading researcher from CCIPA, Dr Song Min, is quoted by SciDevNet to highlight a lack of awareness of IPRs in the agricultural sector in China and the lack of IP policies at the national level.

CCIPA, as represented by Dr Song Min, has been an excellent partner for CAS-IP in the Asian region.  The representatives (Lu Xin, Dr Song Min, Li Zheng) from CCIPA have repeatedly attended the NPI Initiative and are currently finalizing the case study sponsored by CAS-IP, on “Plant Variety Protection System in China: Achievements, Influences and Challenges”.  (Visit this CAS-IP link for more case studies)

Given the well-established reputation of CCIPA and the close partnership between CAS-IP and CCIPA, it seem important that CAS would turn to CCIPA experts, in particular to Dr Song Min, to get a deeper outlook on the ongoing patenting trends, as it has been reported by the Sci Dev.  Dr Song Min kindly provided the following comment:

“In recent years China has witnessed a huge rise of domestic agricultural patent applications. However, the vast majority of them were just filed in China. According to statistics, so far the amount of patent cooperation treaty (PCT) applications for agricultural innovations is 334 which only make up 1.2 percent of total domestic agriculture-related invention patents. Therefore, China’s international applications in the field of agriculture need to be further reinforced.

Basically, obtaining broad regional or worldwide protection for their core inventions is a very critical (crucial) intellectual Property (IP) strategy adopted by many patent holders particularly those giant international companies. Our survey data shows that Bayer, Syngenta and Monsanto have filed 1913, 717 and 413 PCT agricultural patents respectively, moreover all their applications are desired in many countries. Among all agricultural patent applications in China, it’s found that invention patents granted to foreign applicants account for 61.7%. The top five foreign applicants are Bayer, BASF, Syngenta, DuPont Pionner and Monsanto respectively. In their applications, the important technologies of crop protection, genes and recombinant DNA etc. are most claimed.

Correspondingly, China should begin to broaden their narrow country coverage especially for excellent agricultural technologies; otherwise a number of core innovations will be completely besieged by foreign patents. Taking insecticidal crystal protein as example, the average family size of China’s patents is merely 1.7 but similar patent families from US have more than 10 applications. In our opinion, such gap is mainly due to China’s holders’ being not familiar with PCT system and the high cost of filing patent applications globally. “

Post written by Irina Curca, Programme Assistant to CAS-IP

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One response to ““China’s agricultural patents on the rise”

  1. Thanks, Irina. It is worth noting that copyright infringement has been going on for years in China, and now the use of so-called junk patents to steal IP is increasing. A Jan. 26 letter to the White House from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Software Alliance, and more than a dozen other groups representing hundreds of multinationals such as Microsoft, Boeing, Motorola Caterpillar and United Technologies warned of “systematic efforts by China to develop policies that build their domestic enterprises at the expense of U.S. firms.” Hopefully this will not be true of the agricultural sector.

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