In marking the 30th anniversary of the establishment of State Intellectual Property Office of PRC, an article in their web site draw one angle of the history in the past 30-years.
The article address the quantity increased in the past 30-years with a chart showing what they called a steady and prosperous growth. The first Patent Law was enacted on 1st April 1985 and basically no much activity between 1985 and 1998, after hitting the milestone of 100,000 annual patent applications, a major turning point happens in 2000-2001 and the number climbed up drastically. Last year (2008), that increased to more than 800,000 patent application in one year. According to the official line, this reflects the success of the patent system in China.
As a matter of fact, on the day that patent law was enacted, SIPO received 3455 patent application in one day, according to official record.
Fifteen years later, the cumulative total of patent applications reached 1,000,000 in January 2000. The second 1 million patent applications hit SIPO on March 2004, 39 months later. The third 1 million patent applications took less than 30 months, the fourth took 18 months, and the fifth took 16 months in March 2009.
Comparing the same time frame between 1985 and 2008, the GDP growth more than 30 times while the annual patent applications growth close to 90 times.
Here is the link to the article in Chinese with the chart on patent application growth.
This is a very impressive growth, and it reflects the China enterprises are using patent protection to protect their invention, and at the same time, foreign enterprises really thinks that is important to apply and get patent granted in China. I also understand that the growth reflects in people turn over in some of the agent firms in China.