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Last Updated: Friday, 10 August 2007, 04:39 GMT 05:39 UK
'Sharp rise' in Chinese patents
By Quentin Sommerville
BBC News, Shanghai

Prototype robots at a high-tech expo in Beijing in May 2007
China is now third in the world in terms of patent requests
China has seen a sharp increase in requests for patents, according to the UN's intellectual property agency.

The number of requests for patents in China grew by 33% in 2005 compared with the previous year.

That gives it the world's third highest number behind Japan and the United States, the agency said.

China's leaders have been urging companies to become more creative, and put more of their money into developing new technology.

Backing innovation

China has established itself as the heart of the world economy but it is not the brains.

Most of the products it produces are invented and designed elsewhere.

So the profit that China makes on every laptop or DVD player it produces is very small. Cheap labour and huge volumes are what drive profits in China.

Beijing medical clinic

But that may be changing. China appears to be becoming more creative.

The country filed over 170,000 patents in 2005, up by a third on the year before, according to the World Intellectual Property Agency.

The survey is a good indication of innovation.

So that is good news for China's leadership, who have been encouraging companies to invest in research and development.

China knows it cannot bet its future economic success on low wages alone. Other countries are already cheaper.

"Made by China" rather than simply "Made in China" will mean that the country's economic miracle stands a far better chance of lasting longer.

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