Monday, August 29, 2011

China Is Now #3 in the World in Patent Filings

[The following is excerpted from an article by Rachel Armstrong posted by Reuters, Thursday August 25 2011]

Patent filings are soaring across most sectors in China -- last year there were 313,854 patents registered in the country according to the Thomson Reuters Derwent World Patents Index, a 12 percent rise from 2009.  China was the third highest filer of patents in 2010, just behind the U.S., which registered 326,945 and Japan with 337,497. Japan has been the leading patent filer in the world for the past decade but its lead is narrowing, with its filings volume down 12 percent since 2006. China is up 83 percent.

"A lot of know-how flows through the contract manufacturer. The next logical step for these contract manufacturers is to climb up the value chain," said Elliot Papageorgiou a partner at intellectual property law firm Rouse in Shanghai.  And as they move up the value chain, they use patents to protect some of the knowledge and ideas they've picked up as contract manufacturers in order to give them room to manoeuvre in the increasingly competitive market.

"In the last year and especially this year, demand for IP work is growing very fast," said Anthony Chen, a patent lawyer for Jones Day in Shanghai.  Douglas Clark, a barrister specialising in intellectual property cases who has worked in China since 1993 says the size of the industry has surged in recent years. 

The surge in the size of patent portfolios is causing a corresponding rise in litigation.  ... These lawsuits are hardly surprising given that their foreign counterparts such as Apple, Google and Samsung are all trying to use an armory of patents to [control] competition in the global smartphone industry.  Google Inc's biggest deal ever, the agreement to buy Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc this month for $12.5 billion, is an attempt to buy insurance against increasingly aggressive legal attacks from rivals such as Apple Inc.

The influx of patents not only underscores China's growing strength in the telecom sector, it also reveals a change afoot in the country's attitude toward intellectual property.  While the change is hardly air-tight, China is moving more toward recognising ideas and their origins, rather than copying and proliferating.  Intellectual property civil litigation cases filed in China rose by 37 percent to 41,718 last year according to the country's Supreme People's Court. 

This is driven in part by China's plan to become a high-tech power house, with a target for 2.5 percent of its gross domestic product to come from research and development by 2020. It's trying to reach this goal by subsidising the cost of patents for Chinese companies and stricter enforcement of intellectual property rights.

"While traditionally in China you are supposed to share knowledge, the government is also aware that if you don't protect IP rights you don't attract investors and the nation can't develop the high-tech industries it wants," said Isabella Liu, a partner at Baker & McKenzie in Hong Kong.

[Leighton's comments:]
The above underscores the unmistakable trend in China to recognize and manage intellectual property rights in the landscape of business competition, both domestically in China and abroad in export markets.  As I have noted in my previous blog articles, Hawaii technology companies and innovation businesses should protect their intellectual property rights in the U.S. through patent filings, and also consider whether to acquire foreign patent rights through timely international filings in countries with booming markets such as China for possible value in tech transfer transactions.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


"A blue jade dragon would be an extremely rare find!", a Chinese jade expert in Shanghai confided to us. "Blue jade seldom occurs in quantity", he said, "and it would be rarer still to carve it into a dragon, a symbol of power and success". Well, that is just the symbol that Pat Takahashi, Hawaii's longtime renewable energy expert, and Leighton Chong, attorney in intellectual property and international law, were looking for as a logo for their new undertaking, Blue Revolution Hawaii. Along with Fujio Matsuda, former State Transportation Director and President of the University of Hawaii, John Farias, Jr., former State Agriculture Director and Chair of Hawaii County EDB, and Guy Toyama, Executive Director of Friends of NELHA, Blue Revolution Hawaii was formed to advocate Hawaii's taking a leading role in tapping the vast resources of our oceans to generate virtually limitless energy, food and water for needy populations of the world.

Hawaii Can Lead the Blue Revolution
Hawaii today is 90% dependent on imported fossil fuels and 85% on shipped-in foods. Rather than being dependent on imported oil and at risk in food security, we can tap our vast ocean resources to supply our basic needs (energy, food, water) in a sustainable manner and in harmony with the marine environment. In 1979 Hawaii became renown in the scientific community for its Mini-OTEC success in producing a net electrical output from pumping cold water from the ocean depths into heat exchange with warm surface waters to produce electricity. Cold deep ocean water is also used today by new technology companies at NELHA Tech Park in aquaculture to grow shrimp, abalone, and tilapia, planned for use in building air conditioning in Honolulu, and used as a resource for production of bottled ocean water, nutrients for microalgae growing, as well as for drip irrigation of plants. We can leverage our unique assets in ocean and OTEC research, commercial fisheries, traditional and scientific knowledge in aquaculture, and state and federal government support to take a leading role in bringing the Blue Revolution to fruition.

The Blue Revolution: Sustainable Ocean Resources Development
71% of our Earth’s surface is water, and three-quarters of the heat of the Sun shining daily on Earth is stored as thermal energy in the oceans. By pumping or upwelling cold deep waters to warm surface waters for ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) into electricity, the thermal energy potential of the oceans would in theory be equal to 10,000 times the total energy currently used by mankind, indefinitely, at all times of the day and year.  Just a fraction of the energy potential of OTEC conversion could be used to desalinate potable water to supply the needs of human populations of the world.

Deep ocean waters also store vast concentrations of dissolved minerals that if brought to the surface could act as natural fertilizer for growing 3.5 billion dry tons of new marine biomass annually from just 1% of the ocean’s surface. This would be equal to 3 times the total terrestrial biomass that can be collected annually on land in the U.S. It would also represent about 1 billion tons of carbon sequestration annually. Each ton of marine biomass could be cleanly processed into 400 gallons of clean fuels such as methanol, green diesel, ammonia or hydrogen, and the biomass residue can be further processed into organic fertilizers, protein-rich animal and fish feeds, bioactive pharmaceuticals and other high-value marine bioproducts.

Pumping or upwelling cold ocean water to the surface in volumes sufficient for OTEC energy production could improve the world’s environment through cooling surface water temperatures to prevent the formation of typhoons and hurricanes, and absorbing large volumes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to reduce global warming. It could also have a beneficial effect of nutrient enrichment in euphotic zones of ocean waters to stimulate marine life growth and enhance marine food chains to revitalize the world’s wild fish stocks.

PIOS: Launching the Blue Revolution
The next frontier for Humanity is not Space, but the Ocean!

The first step to launching the Blue Revolution is to conduct the necessary research to provide best answers to the most optimal, sustainable, and environmentally protective ways to develop our ocean resources. We advocate the building of a PACIFIC INTERNATIONAL OCEAN STATION (PIOS) as a living/working laboratory for international cooperative research on sustainable ocean resources development. Architectural engineering firms in Japan, Australia, Netherlands, and Sweden have already begun exploring design concepts for constructing artificial islands in the ocean as integrated "green" living and working environments. Like the International Space Station, but at less than 1/10 the cost, PIOS can be deployed as the world's first artificial island in the ocean hosting important research activities of ocean universities, institutions, and agencies in international partnership under an international cooperative research agreement. Blue Revolution Hawaii is working to organize an international consortium of research and support partners to advocate for the building of PIOS in Hawaii's ocean waters. PIOS would also be the world's first floating island facility for testing in-ocean operational conditions and learning best practices for eventual widespread deployment of integrated ocean production "sea ranches" or "plantships" throughout the oceans of the world.

Our Invitation to APEC Delegates
We invite interested delegates of the 21 nations attending the Asia Pacific Economic Council (APEC) Summit in Hawaii to learn about the significant ocean resources of our State and its ideal location for hosting international cooperative research on ocean resources development through the building of the PIOS living/working in-ocean laboratory platform. Please visit our blogsite for further information and updates on our coming hospitality events to introduce the Blue Revolution Hawaii vision to visitors from around the world.

Dr. Patrick Takahashi, Leighton Chong, Guy Toyama, John Farias, Jr., Dr. Fujio Matsuda