Japan, the United States and Germany topped the list of the most patent filings in China last year, according to China's National Intellectual Property Administration (NIPA).
Market entities from 186 countries and regions applied for patents and trademarks in China in 2019, an increase of 12 over the previous year.
Japan, the United States and Germany applied for the most invention patents, with 49,000, 39,000 and 16,000 filings, respectively.
The United States ranked first for trademark applications in 2019 with 54,000 filings, a 5.3 percent increase over 2018, and Japan second with 31,000, growing 21.2 percent from the previous year. Britain was third with a 42.4 percent year-on-year increase of 24,000 applications.
Foreign intellectual property (IP) filings in China continued to grow. In 2019, the number of invention patent applications filed by foreign applicants reached 157,000, up 6 percent from the previous year. The number of foreign trademark applications reached 255,000, an increase of 4.7 percent year-on-year.
"This continued growth of foreign IP applications shows the confidence of foreign investors in the Chinese market as well as China's progress in IP protection and business environment," said Dong Tao, a law professor at Beijing International Studies University.
The NIPA attributed the progress to stronger legislation and tough response to breaches.
Since 2019, China has promulgated a series of laws, regulations and IP protection guidelines, including the Foreign Investment Law, to create a fairer, more transparent and predictable business environment for foreign investors.
The industry watchdog also took measures to curb abnormal applications and trademark hoarding. The NIPA has launched an online patent quality monitoring system, reporting 38,000 abnormal patent applications and rejecting 39,000 abnormal trademark applications last year.
China has taken the global lead in the number of applications for patents, trademarks and industrial designs for many years. But it has recently attached greater importance to more efficient and high-quality IP development.
The NIPA has so far approved the establishment of 26 centers nationwide to reduce processing times and costs of intellectual property rights protection.
The country's efficiency in processing patent applications was improved and has been at the forefront of the world. Last year, the average processing time for trademark registrations was shortened to 4.5 months, compared with six months in 2018, and the processing time for high-value patents examination was reduced by more than 15 percent to 17.3 months.
By the end of 2022, the processing time for an invention patent application will be down to about 16.5 months and for a high-value patent 13.8 months. The average time for processing a trademark application will be reduced to within four months, the fastest worldwide, the NIPA said.
A batch of high-value patents have been acquired in recent years mainly in the fields of artificial intelligence, mobile communications, high-speed railways and biomedicine.