I attended a Symposium on China patent law jointly organized by HK and Guangdong Intellectual Property offices. Interesting things were learnt.
In the recent weeks, there were news about the world wide patent applications and the corresponding figures for patent applications filed to State Intellectual Property Office of PRC ("SIPO"). China is very proud of ever increasing number of cases. However, there were other angles to look at these.
We learnt that there were about 9000 staff in SIPO and we don't know how many of them are patent examiners, but it must be less than 9000. The number of practicing patent attorney in China is about 6000. There were 314,573 invention patent applications (commonly known as utility patent in US) filed in 2009. That means on average, each patent attorney handles about 50 patent application in one year. Furthermore, the boss of one agent firm told the Symposium that for a patent attorney to have a reasonable income, they need to handle about 100 cases per year.
I understand that for those patent attorney who handles 100 cases per year, they must be offering a cut-throat price to their customers. How come? I met some Hong Kong inventors recently in the annual meeting of the Hong Kong inventors group, I was told that they were able to get a patent agent to handle: drafting, drawing, filing and official fee of a utility patent (something like provisional patent in US) in China for about RMB2600, in today's exchange rate, is about USD380.
Now you understand why they need to handle 100 cases per year in order to have a reasonable income. Also, you can understand there is always room for price cutting if you want something from China.
Sorry my customers: I don't cut my price to meet my competitor. You can go somewhere else to get a cheaper service, not from me. Also, I strongly advise you not to file utility patent in China, instead you should file an invention patent application (which is more expansive).
a patent agent should be able to handle 100 cases per year easily enough.
Most invenrtion Chinese patents originate overseas and all the agent has to do is translate the text, put figure lables on in simplified chinese text and file it.
for prosecution, again the agent only needs to translate the office actions and get all the substantive comments from the instructing forign agent
What you said may be right. But you also need to look at the numbers in 2009:
There were 314573 invention patent filed, out of which 72.8% were domestic, and 310771 utility model filed, out of which 99.4 were domestic.
For domestic filing, there were no foreign patent agent supervising China patent attorney in these filing.
The total patents filed by foreign entities in 2009 (invention and utility model combined) numbered to 87387.
Numbers are disclosed here: http://www.sipo.gov.cn/sipo_English/statistics/gnwsznb/2009/201001/t20100127_488773.html
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