How China Built the World’s Biggest Patent Office – The Pressure Driving Mechanism



In 2011 China’s patent office received more patent applications than any other patent office in the world. While explanations for this patent surge focus on some relevant factors such as the use of subsidies for application fees, what is missing from the literature is an analysis of how China turns its fragmented levels of government into an efficient system for obtaining compliance with patent targets set by the higher levels of government. Drawing on the governance literature from China we introduce the concept of the pressure driving mechanism and show how this mechanism enables China to reach the goals and targets that it sets for its patent system. We discuss goal and target-setting at the higher levels of government and show how these are then transmitted to lower levels of government. We explain how performance evaluation and peer transparency are used to generate pressure on Chinese officials to comply with patent targets. Provincial-level patent data are presented to show how well compliance works, as well as to demonstrate how the mechanism operates to make the patent system responsive to changes in targets. Through the application of the pressure driving mechanism, China is developing a unique tool of patent regulation.


Patent surge Pressure driving mechanism State Intellectual Property Office of China (SIPO) Target-setting National Intellectual Property Strategy 



We thank Dan Prud’homme, Meredith Edelman, Therese Pearce Laanela and Kate Ogg for their invaluable comments on an early draft of this article.


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Copyright information

© Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition, Munich 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Professor of Law and Governance, Law DepartmentEuropean University InstituteFlorenceItaly
  2. 2.Doctoral Candidate, School of Regulation and Global GovernanceAustralian National UniversityCanberraAustralia

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