With the world economy at a virtual standstill, China`s business community and its social development initiatives are both facing unlooked for challenges. One thing has become clear during this period of uncertainty - companies that own independent intellectual property rights (IPR) on their core technologies are far better positioned than their rivals to weather the downturn.
Many local governments have woken up to this new reality and are making stringent efforts to refine their IPR base. Zhang Guangbo, vice mayor of Yantai city in the coastal province of Shandong, said: "We will continue consolidating our efforts to enhance the creation, application, protection and management of IPR to ensure the sustainable development of our urban economy."
In 2008 5,435 patent applications were made in Yantai, representing a 20.35 percent year-on-year increase. Included in this number were applications for 1,487 invention patents, bringing the city`s accumulated patent applications in this sector to more than 32,000.
Businesses in the city also applied to register 1,060 new trademarks, whilst 45 global trademark applications and 50 copyright registrations were made during the same period
The Yantai IPR bureau has also launched a number of communication initiatives. These have included widely publicizing the Outline of the State Intellectual Property Right Strategy through distributing brochures, launching an IPR week, running a number of IPR-related training courses and issuing a series of briefing documents.
Another city notable for its successes in this area is Haiyang, a county-level city again under the jurisdiction of Yantai. In the first half of this year, the city`s number of patents reached 102, an astonishing 100 percent increase over the same period last year.
As a key tenet of the area`s development policies, IPR has been continually forefronted in a series of local government initiatives. The results have been staggering - since the adoption of its IPR-friendly policies, the total number of patents applied for by Haiyang businesses has reached 471 - more than twice the total applied for in the previous 20 years.
By the end of 2008, Haiyang businesses had applied for 471 patents, twice the total number applied for over the past 20 years. This year Haiyang is already well on course to exceed 2008`s 164 patent applications, itself a record number for the city.
IPR development initiatives have not just been restricted to Yantai. Longkou, a county-level city under the jurisdiction of Yantai, has demonstrated a pioneering approach to IPR. At present, more than 60 percent of the city`s businesses have established an IPR department.
Each of its 30 model enterprises has more than 20 patents. In 2008, the total number of patent application in Longkou was 906, a rise of some 8.27 percent.
In addition to its focus on industrial IPR issues, Longkou has also made considerable efforts to maximize public awareness of IPR matters.
Thanks to a series of independent innovation initiatives, the Yantai Economic and Technological Development Zone enjoyed rapid growth in 2008, securing an output of 126.1 billion yuan from its high-tech industry base.
The total number of patent applications from companies within the zone reached 3,030 by the end of the year, with some 1,700 of them having already received formal approval. In fact two of the successful applications went onto to success in the 10th Chinese Patent Golden Awards.
Back in 2007, the Yantai Development Zone established its own Intellectual Property Office.
This year IPR became part of the area`s assessment index system, a key monitor of business development in the region, in a bid to promote and reward success in the intellectual property sector.