The number of patent applications filed at the Chinese State Intellectual Property Office SIPO grew tremendously over the last decades and the SIPO has become the world's third largest patent office by 2009. In this paper, we provide an overview of the institutional background of patent examination in China. Moreover, we empirically analyze the determinants of the grant lags applicants have to expect at the SIPO. The multivariate duration analysis is based on the population of 443,533 patent applications filed at the SIPO between 1990 and 2002. The average grant lag is 4.71 years with considerable variation across 30 different technology areas. Interestingly, we find that Chinese applicants are able to achieve faster patent grants than their non-Chinese counterparts (even after controlling for various other determinants of grant lags). This might be an indication of a differential treatment of Chinese applicants which would be in violation of Art. 3 (National Treatment) and Art. 4 (Most-favored Nation Treatment) of TRIPS that has been signed by China in 2001.
patent system patent examination State Intellectual Property Office China duration analysis