An IP culture in China?

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 РHuawei sued Motorola in a U.S. court Рand Chinese firms are also going against each other РHuawei 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.