Will 2011 mark the emergence of an intellectual property (IP) culture in China?
There are of course the usual suspects, Huawei and ZTE, who happen to rank among the top 5 global patent filers in 2010. But it seems that the two IP champions are building a following at the domestic level. According to Reuters, the number of IP civil litigation cases filed in China in 2010 rose by 37%. Where it used to be MNCs suing Chinese firms, the reverse is now happening – Huawei sued Motorola in a U.S. court – and Chinese firms are also going against each other – Huawei and ZTE are suing each other in a German court (!).
While a sure sign that there is some valuable IP to protect in China, it remains a bit early to rejoice. Having notably improved in the past decade the Chinese court system still requires some capacity-building. In addition, most of the patents filed in China would probably not qualify as inventions in foreign IP offices. But Rome wasn’t built in one day either.