Technology protectionism and the patent system: Strategic technologies in China

Gaétan de Rassenfosse (EPFL) & Emilio Raiteri (EPFL), “Technology protectionism and the patent system: Strategic technologies in China”

The national treatment principle (NTP) is a centerpiece to many trade-related international law treaties. It states that foreigners and locals must be treated equally, and its violation may lead to retaliation measures by affected countries. The NTP is also central to international patent law treaties, preventing that countries free-ride on foreign technologies. Business and policy circles have voiced concerns about violation of the NTP at the Chinese patent office, without empirical evidence to assert this claim. Using data on about half a million patent applications filed in China we find no, or only weak, evidence of anti-foreign bias in the issuance of patents overall. However, foreign applications in technology fields that are of strategic importance to China are five to six percentage points less likely to be granted a patent than local applications, all else equal.