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PATENTS

Government targets, end-of-year patenting rush and innovative performance in China

A study of the seasonality and overall quantity and quality of Chinese patenting, including international comparisons, suggests that government planning and annual targets encouraged gaming of the system, which increased patent counts but negatively affected patent quality.

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Fig. 1: Turbulence in patent filings by Chinese inventors around 2000.
Fig. 2: End-of-year peaks in the number of patent applications at SIPO.
Fig. 3: End-of-year troughs in grant rate of patent applications, by filing dates at SIPO.
Fig. 4: End-of-year troughs in forward citations to granted patents, by filing dates at SIPO.

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Acknowledgements

This research was partly funded by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The opinions expressed in the paper are the authors’ own. The authors are grateful to Stuart Graham of the Georgia Institute of Technology, formerly chief economist of the USPTO, for his support and comments.

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Correspondence to Zhen Lei.

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Sun, Z., Lei, Z., Wright, B.D. et al. Government targets, end-of-year patenting rush and innovative performance in China. Nat Biotechnol 39, 1068–1075 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41587-021-01035-x

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