According to numerous experts in the patents sector, China is quickly catching up with the United States when it comes to intellectual property, making strides towards its goal to position itself as the preeminent global technology power.

Worldwide applications  for patents, trademarks  and industrial design registrations reached record levels according to the latest report published by the WIPO, with particularly strong demand in China, which received more patent applications than all those filed in the United States of America (USA), Japan, the Republic of Korea and European Patent Office combined.

China became the second most common geographic source of international patent applications filed with the WIPO in 2017, closing in on the figures seen in the United States, which has been at the top of the leader board for a long time.  Last year, China overtook Japan to take second place as the world's second largest patent applicant, with 13.4 per cent annual growth.  If it keeps growing at this pace, China will overtake the United States in number of active patents in no more than three years.

But this growth in patent registration in China is not due solely to increased inventive activity in the country, but also to the facilities being provided by the Chinese government to Intellectual Property owners.  These days there are around 2,000 technologies in different industries that can be marketed in China and not in the United States due to the latter’s limitations on “inventive activity”.

In other words, the significant increase in the percentage of China’s GDP invested in R&D, and growing uncertainty surrounding patentability in the United States, are two factors that suggest that the title of world intellectual property rights leader will pass to China more quickly than one might assume at first glance.

The launch of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) in 2012 has not been much help to patent holders, who have found themselves embroiled in long, costly processes to demonstrate that they comply with patentability requirements before the legal authority of the United States Patent and Trademark Office  (USPTO), even having obtained a preliminary statement of validity from the district courts.

Furthermore, it is worth mentioning President Xi Jinping’s recent promise to abide by international trade laws, to be more transparent, to foster competition and increase protection from counterfeiting and infringements, all very positive messages for foreign manufacturers and Intellectual Property owners in general. 

We will see what next WIPO market report has to say.




According to different sector sources thereare more than 5 million applicationsavailable on the market. In under 5 years, the number ofapplication downloads will exceed 352 billion,as opposed to the 197 estimated in 2017. And the income associated with these downloads will increase accordingly. 

These mobile applications improve our daily lives to such an extent that our hearts miss a beat at the mere thought we may have left our mobile phone at home or if we can't find it. And more and more appear each day, offering new services. Therefore, the creators of these applications have to protect their creation, but it is not so easy to patent software and/or apps under European legislation.

To receive a patent the app must meet the classic requirements that make it suitable for patenting (newness, inventive activity and industrial application) and it must also be of a technical nature and provide a solution.



Requirements for patenting apps and software

Not all applications can be protected, although some can be patented. What requirements must they meet?

The main requirement is that the application must be new at the worldwide level. This means that there must be no other application like ours anywhere on the planet.

Inventive activity
Another requirement is that the invention should be important. In other words, the application must not be obvious to an expert who knows applications or be similar to others.

Technical nature as an industrial application

Finally, there is the technical nature as an industrial application. The application must interact automatically with its surroundings, gathering all the information automatically and offering results with the information obtained.

It is precisely this last requirement that in most cases determines the capacity of an app to be patented. Most computer programs and applications cannot be protected by patents, so European legislation (and not American) considers that they have intellectual property rights.  

In this case, there are other additional forms of legal protection, such as: 

  • copyright;
  • the trademark of the application (name, logo and Nice classification;
  • the wording of express right concession agreements;
  • the demonstration of authorship of the app via a public notary;
  • or the graphical interface on the Community industrial design register.

Innovation is part of entrepreneurs’ and computer developers’ DNA, but unfortunately the protection of the intangible assets they produce is not usually one of their priorities. Good protection of industrial property is fundamental tominimizing the legal risks and maximizing the profitability of the investment made and in this blog we advise you to call on a company specialized in intellectual and industrial property portfolios.




The details contained in a patent are a rich source of technological and legal information that often cannot be found in other publications. 

By checking patents, innovation departments are able to access up to 80% of the technological information published, which they would not be able to find elsewhere. 

Without this source of technological information, it is estimated that only 44% of the information that exists would be accessible. The situation in the chemical industry is even worse, as 95% of the information on all the substances ever patented cannot be found in any other type of file or document. This explains why patents are so vital when it comes to technological information.

According to a worldwide survey conducted by the European Patent Office (EPO) of over 250 innovation companies, which was published in mid-2017, 70% of these companies used patent information regularly.

Marketing and R&D+I departments use that information to: 

  • extract, analyze, and examine the major trends in a number of technology sectors, especially those of public interest, such as healthcare and environmental issues;
  • learn more about innovative activities and where the competition is heading;
  • minimize the amount of time wasted on research and development tasks that have already been done;
  • avoid infringing patents registered by other inventors;
  • find out whether their inventions can be patented;
  • estimate the value of their patents or those of other inventors;
  • read about and use freely accessible technology described in patent requests that were not approved or patents that are not valid in certain countries or have expired.



What kind of technological information can patents reveal?

Publishing a patent document is the official way the public finds out about an invention. It describes the purpose of the invention in sufficient detail.

Patent documents can tell us all the information that was registered and published about an invention or the information included in patent files that are under consideration. They therefore contain all kinds of technical, legal, and commercial information. That includes descriptions, drawings of the inventions, patent claims, and know-how.

The technological information provided by patents is based on the information provided by the applicant, even when it is pending approval. This means that you will be able to find applications, including those for utility models, R&D projects, and technical issues in general. They can also help determine the freedom to operate in each territory.

In short, patents not only grant the holder the exclusive right to use an invention but also reveal a wealth of information about all kinds of technological documents.  SHIP Global IP, specialists in Industrial Property, can offer you guidance and reports on technological innovation in your field.





In any industrial property, all inventions have an inventive step behind them, as this is one of the requirements that a patentable product must meet for authorities to grant exclusive rights to it for a period of time.  The other objective patentability requirements are an industrial application and that the invention be innovative. 

This wasn't a patentability requirement 200+ years ago when patents were invented except in the United States where inventiveness was a requirement although only in some cases.  In other countries this requirement has gradually been adopted.

Evaluating inventive step is more complicated than the other requirements as it has to do with determining whether an invention is evident to a skilled person based on the state of the art on the date the application was filed.

How has the inventive step requirement evolved over time?

Since it was approved as a patent requirement, different methods have been developed for a more complete and objective evaluation of our inventions. In the European Union, for example, this method consists of these questions:

- What is the closest state of the art?

- What unique technical characteristics distinguish the invention defined in the claim and the state of the art mentioned in the question above?

- What technical consequences does this distinction have?

- What is the objective technical problem underlying the invention the claim has been filed for?

- Would an expert have recognized that problem? Would an expert have resolved it correctly?

In the United States the Graham Factors are used, which specify that the inventive step must be determined bearing in mind:

  1. The scope and content of the state of the art.
  2. The level of a skilled person.
  3. The differences between the invention being claimed and the prior state of the art, and
  4. Objective proof of non-obviousness.

Requirements for the inventive step: state of the art and skilled person

Although there are some differences between the methods, they are minor. To apply the methods correctly we have to know the state of the art and skilled person.

The state of the art is basically any information that has been made accessible to any person at any place through written or oral description, through use, or by any other means, before the patent application was filed.

The state of the art differs by country in terms of the period before the application was filed.  The United States does not include any information disclosed by the applicant or by third parties up to 12 months prior, while in Japan it is up to six months prior.

The skilled person is an expert in the technical field covered by the invention.  It is assumed that this person has had access to the state of the art.  The figure of the skilled person, which might be a production or research team for highly advanced technologies, is controversial to say the least.

Differences between levels of invention

By law, this requirement for inventive step is, out of the three patentability requirements, the one with the biggest margin by governments to make obtaining patents easier or harder.

The level of invention may limit the scope of the patent rights.

A combination of known elements with a predictable result is the definition of an invention that lacks inventive step, in which case the patent will not be awarded.

Industrial property is vital to avoid plagiarism and have exclusive rights over inventions and developments. At SHIPwe offer you advice on the best strategy to follow and we accompany you through the process and over the duration of your patent.




We all have an inventive streak. At some time in our lives, most have us have come up with clever solutions to everyday problems. And we often make them happen. But, throughout history, some very weird patents have provided ingenious solutions to specific problems but never really took off because of the unlikely advantages they offered, because they were not commercially viable, or because they simply came at the wrong time.

This article looks back at some of history's wackiest patents and ingenious solutions to prove that, as long as it is innovative, any invention can be patented.


Five weird patents


  • The hiccup stopper. In 2003, a patent was registered for a series of metal rods that were placed inside a glass and made to touch the sides of someone's face so that, while they were drinking, small electric shocks would be emitted, jolting the vagus nerve and phrenic nerves, and stopping the hiccups. We don't know whether it actually works, but it definitely sounds like an accident waiting to happen.




  • The rodent-walking tee-shirt is considered to be one of the weirdest patents ever. The invention is a tee-shirt with see-through tunnels to be worn by those who want to take a walk with their gerbils or mice scurrying around for all to see. Well, even this invention has to have its fans!



  • The Beerbrella. Who hasn't found themselves at the beach hopelessly trying to shelter their drink from the hot sun? The Beerbrella is the solution. This tiny parasol easily attaches to a bottle of your favorite soda to keep it in the shade.



  • The vibrating tattoo is one of the world's funniest inventions. This patent is for a tattoo that vibrates when your phone rings. Presumably it was patented before WhatsApp groups existed!



  • The High-Five Machine. An articulated arm for you to high-five with. The instructions explain that it can be hung on the wall or any other surface to boost your self-esteem and raise your spirits. If that's true, we all want one!



Did you like these five weird but clever patents? We hope you did and that we inspired the inventor in you. Now you can see that any invention, small or strange as it may seem, can be protected by a patent.


In fact, some of the most unusual patents have made their creators millionaires.  Take Doggles for instance, an extremely popular brand of polarised sunglasses that perfectly fit a dog's head. They even make Doggles for dogs with sight problems.

Doggles were invented by Roni Di Lullo, and in 2004 they were on sale in 4,500 stores in 16 countries, earning Di Lullo millions of dollars.

At SHIP, there is an entire team of industrial property experts at your disposal to take you and your inner inventor straight to the top.