Feeds

China's patent EXPLOSION could leave West behind

Five Year Plan for 400,000-strong patent thicket

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Analysis No one should be in any doubt that patents are a key part - if not the key part - of any strategy to gain or hold market share in tech industry.

Google is scrambling to cover its arse with hauls of patents from IBM and Motorola Mobility, as the smartphone and fondleslab patent wars scale new heights in courts in Europe and the US.

Nokia, a company many commentators have already written off in the mobile phone world, managed to win a patent case settlement from the litigating juggernaut Apple, which is otherwise gunning for Android manufacturers. Although figures have never been confirmed, Nokia's quarterly report that followed the case in July had a settlement income of €430m, widely assumed to be mostly an Apple contribution. And the iPhone maker will continue to pay royalties to the Finnish former phone leader every time a panting fanboi gets their hands on a Jesus mobe.

Nokia is not out of the woods yet, as that same quarterly report showed, but right around the corner is the lovely LTE standard for 4G phones, a standard that will give the firm 1.5 per cent to 2 per cent royalties on each FRAND (fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory) licence of the technology, according to a press release in 2009 (which is now mysteriously missing from Nokia's website, but is quoted in a number of papers, including this one).

Whether or not it is making handsets, Nokia's going to be making money from phones, along with companies you may recognise from other patent litigation, including Qualcomm, Motorola, Ericsson, Huawei and ZTE.

But it's not just high-tech companies that are watching the patent wars with avid attention. Countries are waking up to the economical advantages of patent ownership as well, and one in particular is looking to fill up its arsenal, fast.

China: enter stage left

China, traditional home of the cheap knock-off, is moving from copycat to innovator, according to statistics (PDF) from the World Intellectual Property Organisation, which collects data from the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT).

In 2010, East Asia overtook North America and Western Europe to become the subregion accounting for the most PCT filings, while the economic downturn caused a slowdown in the traditionally patent-prolific West:

From 2002 to 2010, the average annual growth rate of East Asia was 15.1 per cent, compared to 1.1 per cent for North America and 3.1 per cent for Western Europe.

Indeed, since the economic recovery that followed the dot-com recession, the major East Asian Filers – China, Japan and the Republic of Korea – experienced particularly rapid growth in applications. They continued to increase their filings even during and after the most recent economic downturn – unlike North America and Western Europe.

And these stats might not even reflect the half of the patents China is accumulating:

East Asian countries still rely less on the PCT system for their filings abroad than do the US and Germany. China’s participation in the PCT system is still relatively young. As China’s economy further develops and applicants gain experience with the international patent system, its PCT filings may well generate more national phase entries.

Recent reports have speculated that China is losing its crown as the low-cost king of manufacturing, with rising wages and an ageing population combining to make outsourcing companies start looking in other Asian economies for their cheap labour.

But China is holding on to its reputation for producing consumer electronics, and the shift from general manufacturing to high-tech is all part of the plan - the Five-Year Plan of the government.

In the 12th iteration, China's government has laid out its intention to turn its coastal regions from the "world's factory" to hubs of research and development and high-end manufacturing.

The Chinese are interested in high tech, they're interested in green tech and the government is putting up the renminbi necessary to encourage innovation, according to a presentation by Gordon Harris, a partner at international law firm Wragge & Co. Harris heads up intellectual property at the firm's China office.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Bladerunner sequel might actually be good. Harrison Ford is in it
Go ahead, you're all clear, kid... Sorry, wrong film
Musicians sue UK.gov over 'zero pay' copyright fix
Everyone else in Europe compensates us - why can't you?
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Euro Parliament VOTES to BREAK UP GOOGLE. Er, OK then
It CANNA do it, captain.They DON'T have the POWER!
Megaupload overlord Kim Dotcom: The US HAS RADICALISED ME!
Now my lawyers have bailed 'cos I'm 'OFFICIALLY' BROKE
Forget Hillary, HP's ex CARLY FIORINA 'wants to be next US Prez'
Former CEO has political ambitions again, according to Washington DC sources
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
10 ways wire data helps conquer IT complexity
IT teams can automatically detect problems across the IT environment, spot data theft, select unique pieces of transaction payloads to send to a data source, and more.