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Tian Lipu, SIPO: Masterminding the innovation burst

IP rights in China have developed at a breakneck pace under Tian Lipu’s stewardship; what else does he have in store for the world’s second largest market?

Lipu believes becoming an innovation economy will increase China’s influence

The choice might be predictable, but it would be foolhardy to make a list of the IP world's most influential 10 people and exclude Tian Lipu, commissioner of China's State Intellectual Property Office.

Under Tian's leadership, China's intellectual property has grown by leaps and bounds. In 2011, China overtook the United States and Japan with the most patent filings in the world, with 1.63 million. The increase has been astonishing, given that there were only about 3 million total applications filed in China in the last 20 years.

Some of this is credited to economic incentives for frequent patent filers, but it is also the result of increasing awareness of the importance of intellectual property in China. As a number of IP attorneys have noted, 2010 and 2011 also saw a marked increase of Chinese companies as plaintiffs in IP litigation cases.

"Culture is the foundation of soft power and also a fertile ground for creative industry"

The boom in patent applications is just one facet of China's national IP strategy to become "a nation with an internationally top level of creating, using, protecting and managing IP rights by 2020" in Tian's words. From increasing the number of patent examiners to devising creative, if controversial, methods of supporting Chinese IP, such as the so-called indigenous innovation policies, the IP environment in China is rapidly changing, with Tian at the forefront.

This emphasis on IP fits into a larger vision for China to become more than just the world's factory. Intellectual property is seen as a key to this, and as a path to increased international influence.

"Culture is the foundation of soft power and also a fertile ground for creative industry," said Tian in a statement during this year's World IP day events in Beijing. "It is absolutely imperative to accelerate development of an IP culture combined with traditional, profound Chinese wisdom for a burst of innovation."

Further reading:

Litigation strategy: The changing face of IP litigation [Managing IP]
Q&A with Tian Lipu [Managing IP]
Exclusive: SIPO celebrates 30 years [Managing IP]

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