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    Huawei, Sinopec Were China’s Top Patent-Seekers in 2019

    With safeguarding intellectual property at the center of an ongoing trade dispute with the U.S., China is hoping to more tightly regulate its tech sector and increase self-reliance.

    China granted nearly 5% more patents in 2019 compared with the previous year, with telecom giant Huawei, oil conglomerate Sinopec, and cellphone maker Oppo leading the way.

    Over 1.4 million patent applications were filed in China last year, the National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA), the country’s patent office, said Tuesday during its first press conference of 2020. Of these applications, 453,000 were approved, a year-on-year increase of 4.8%.

    Huawei — which, along with over 100 of its affiliates and subsidiaries, was blacklisted by the U.S. government in May and August — was granted 4,510 patents last year, more than any other Chinese company. Sinopec and Oppo ranked second and third with 2,883 and 2,614 new patents, respectively.

    Patents pertaining to China’s microchip industry saw a significant increase from 2018. With intellectual property figuring prominently in ongoing trade negotiations, China has vowed to more strictly regulate its IP sector while also becoming less reliant on U.S. technology.

    Patents filed for integrated circuit layout designs for microchips saw a particularly large rise last year compared with 2018. CNIPA received 8,319 patent applications for integrated circuit layout designs last year and granted 6,614 of them, accounting for year-on-year increases of 88 % and 73%, respectively.

    The larger numbers of patent applications received and granted are a reflection of the higher quality of Chinese innovation and the improved efficiency of the country’s intellectual property services, according to Hu Wenhui, a CNIPA spokesperson. At Tuesday’s press conference, Hu said that a draft revision of the State Council’s 2008 national intellectual property strategy has been completed and will be submitted to the central government for approval later this year.

    Intellectual property protection has been the central focus in the trade conflict between China and the U.S. With the Trump administration blacklisting more Chinese companies because of national security and IP protection concerns, China is considering imposing stiffer penalties for IP rights violations as part of the trade dispute negotiations, according to a government document released in November.

    Editor: David Paulk.

    (Header image: Tuchong)