The State Intellectual Property Office of China (SIPO) has published some year-end statistics, and the numbers are striking - based on an annualized projection of Chinese patent filings (SIPO only gives 11 months in the report), over 780,000 applications were filed in the year, of which 213,000 are utility model applications and 290,000 are design patent applications. Just as in previous years, China ranks first in the world for total patent filings.
What is most striking about these numbers is that foreign applicants (including the US, Japan, and the EU), account for only 14% of the total. In fact, the Guangdong Region (i.e., the Canton Province) filed more applications in SIPO than the US and Japan combined. Foreign utility model filings account for less than 1% of the total, and for design applications, account for less than 5%.From SIPO:
-- Total Applications for Patents Received from Home and Abroad (link)
-- Total Grants for Patents Received from Home and Abroad (link)
-- See main SIPO statistics page here (link)
See also Cong Cao, UPI Asia.com, "Has China become a patent powerhouse?" (link)
Although since 2001 China has witnessed an average annual growth of 20 percent in invention, utility model, and design patent applications, and invention patent applications have grown 25 percent year-on-year, with domestic enterprises growing 30 percent annually, invention patents account for only one-third of the patent applications. Domestic inventors are still more likely to file applications for utility model and design patents, or patents for incremental improvements over existing ones.