The relationship between the United States and China is complicated. Over time, relations have remained generally stable despite a few periods of conflict, and the U.S. and China have maintained the roles of both rivals and economic partners. With the United States and China having the world’s top two largest economies, both nations are incentivized to take advantage of the business opportunities the other has to offer. Good business means protecting valuable intellectual property and patenting inventions to ensure greater success. Chinese patent documents can impact your business and your ability to obtain a patent regardless of your location. Here are three reasons why searching for Chinese patent documents is a wise move for any U.S.-based business:

1. Chinese Patent Documents Affect U.S. Patentability

Before granting a patent, USPTO patent examiners look for documents and disclosures called “prior art” that might affect the patentability of the underlying invention. Unfortunately for patent applicants, patent examiners search far beyond USPTO databases for relevant prior art, and, in fact, do their best to uncover prior art from anywhere in the world. China happens to be the world leader in filed patent applications, with over 1.2 million patent applications submitted for Chinese patents in 2016 alone (compared to less than 650,000 USPTO patents filed in 2015). Identifying prior art in China before filing a USPTO patent application can help to improve your patent prosecution strategy or to avoid frivolous patent filings.

2. USPTO Patents Only Cover the United States

According to the United States Census Bureau, there are roughly 7.5 billion people on our planet, and almost 1.4 billion of them live in China. China’s population and general market size make it an appealing choice for inventors looking to capitalize on their ideas. The scope of protection given to USPTO patent holders, however, extends only to the United States and its territories. To obtain patent protection in a foreign country such as China, an application must either be submitted directly to the patent authority of that foreign country or through an international filing system in which that foreign country takes part.

Chinese patent protection can be acquired by either filing directly to China’s State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) or by using the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) international filing system. In either case, searching for patent documents affecting patentability according to China’s patent requirements and obtaining a patentability opinion by a knowledgeable professional is strongly encouraged before filing for a Chinese patent.

3. Chinese Patents May Help Identify Global Trends

With nearly twenty percent of the world’s population living in China and considering the abundance of patent applications filed in China each year, an analysis of recent Chinese patent filings can help to identify global trends in technology and innovation. With the right patent search tools, businesses and professionals can stay on top of the most innovative industries and patent classifications – helping them to make smarter business decisions and to avoid patent infringement along the way.

LexisNexis TotalPatent One® is the ultimate patent search tool for businesses and patent professionals seeking international patent protection. With its user-friendly interface and access to hundreds of thousands of patent documents from all over the world, TotalPatent One® facilitates global patent searches from a single platform. TotalPatent One provides access to English-translated patents and patent applications from over 100 worldwide patent authorities so that less time can be spent gathering information, and more time is left global innovation.

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