Seoul Journal of Economics - Vol. 26 , No. 1

[ Article ]
Seoul Journal of Economics - Vol. 26, No. 1, pp.33-72
Abbreviation: SJE
ISSN: 1225-0279 (Print)
Print publication date 28 Feb 2013
Received 15 Sep 2012 Revised 28 Dec 2012 Accepted 04 Jan 2013

Quality and Value of Chinese Patenting: An International Perspective
Grid Thoma
Assistant Professor with Tenure, School of Sciences and Technology, Computer Science Division, University of Camerino, Via del Bastione, 62032, Camerino (MC), Italy, Tel: +39-0737-40-25-74, Fax: +39-0737-40-21-27 (grid.thoma@unicam.it)

JEL Classification: O31, O34


This paper presents a novel analysis of the international dimension of the rapid growth of Chinese patenting and advances an econometric model to scrutinize the determinants of patent granting, prior-art searches, opposition to patents granted, and patent renewal decisions. Our results provide support for the “strategic patenting” hypothesis on the lower value and quality of Chinese patents compared to other patents on average, though a few caveats are in order. On the one hand, I find that the probability of grant for foreign multinational firms is negative although their patents are relative strong regarding the prior art. The low value effect on opposition and renewal decision is moderate. On the other hand, for Chinese indigenous patenting, I do not find ample evidence that there is lower probability of grant, but I do find support that these patents lack adequate prior art research, receive more oppositions, and have shorter renewal life cycle compared to other Chinese patents and other patents on average. The size and experience of the patent owner positively mediate these effects. Hence, the findings are consistent with the assumption that large and younger patenters concentrated in a few industries are responsible for the bulk of strategic patenting.

Keywords: Patent value, Quality, China, International patent filings, Firm level analysis


I am grateful to Dominique Guellec and Jacques Mairesse for discussing this project with me and for their encouragement. The paper has also benefited from comments by Giulia Ajmone Marsan, Lee Branstetter, Stuart Graham, Bronwyn H. Hall, Pierre Mohnen, Mark Schankerman, Luc Soete, Brian Wright, and all the participants at the EPIP Workshop Meeting in Maastricht (December, 2010), the EPIP Annual Conference in Leuven (September, 2012), and the Third Asian Pacific Innovation Network Annual Conference in Seoul (October, 2012). All errors are mine. I would also like to thank Sheila Beatty for editorial assistance of the manuscript.

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