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By the End of 2022, How Many Patent Attorneys Are in China?

Voice: Mavis WANG
Project Administrator
At the end of 2022, the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) released the Evaluation Report on the 2022 China Intellectual Property Development Status (hereinafter referred to as the Evaluation Report). According to the report, there were 26,840 practicing patent attorneys nationwide in 2021. The statistics from the China Patent Agency Information Publicity Platform indicated that the number of practicing patent attorneys in China exceeded 31,000 as of Dec 31, 2022, which increased by 4,500 compared with that number in 2021 which is the highest in recent years, equal to the total growth in 2019 and 2020.
According to the Plan for Promoting High-quality Development of the Patent Industry (2022-2025) issued by the All-China Patent Attorneys Association, the number of practicing patent attorneys should reach 40,000 by 2025. And the plan of the CNIPA expects more than 50,000 practicing patent attorneys by 2030. Following such increases of 3,000 each year, the target will be reached by 2028.
The Evaluation Report also pointed out that the comprehensive competitiveness of China's intellectual property has steadily improved. The international patent index of China was 79.56, up by 0.67 from the previous year, ranking the 8th among 49 sample countries, maintaining the same ranking as the previous year. The top seven countries in turn were the United States (89.79), Japan (86.35), Switzerland (82.89), the Netherlands (82.59), South Korea (82.55), France (80.01), and Germany (79.94), indicating that China's comprehensive competitiveness in intellectual property has been further enhanced.
The Statistical Survey Report on 2022 National Intellectual Property Service Industry released by the CNIPA showed that by the end of 2021, there were 3,934 patent agencies, up by 20.9% year-on-year. Intellectual property service institutions that were established within 5 years accounted for 55.7%, the proportion of the institutions that has been established for or more than 20 years was 5.5%. The patent applications filed by the patent agency accounted for 80.2% of the total number of patent applications (i.e. the rate of patents being represented was 80.2%), among which the invention patent took 86.2%.
The number of practicing patent attorney in 2021 was 26,840, and the total number of invention applications in that year was 1.586 million, equivalent to 59.1 cases per attorney. Among the service institutions that participated in the survey, male and female employees accounted for 47% and 53%, respectively. And the number of patent examiners in China is about 16,000, which is obviously insufficient. The average number of examination cases to be handled by examiners at the local patent examination cooperation center has reached 140 a year per person, which keeps examiners busy.
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