The cost to register a patent in China

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I was involved in a Linked In discussion this week about IP in China. My advice has always been that IP protection is expensive in China and probably not very effective so, at least for small businesses, one’s time, money and energy would be better spent working with vendors to ensure quality and delivery than worrying about their product showing up on the shelf of a Chinese department store or online shop. One of the people who responded to me on Linked In, someone who has been active in China supply chains for over 20 years,  agreed with me that IP is still a very new concept in China and added that China patent law, something it appears he has a lot of experience with,  is “archaic.” However, he said he does go to the trouble to register patents sometimes in cases when he sees doing so as a “strategic” move. My first thought when I read this is that either registering a patent in China is cheaper than I thought, or this guy works with a company that has the resources to make “strategic” moves in China.  So just out of curiosity I looked up to see what it costs to register a patent in China nowadays.

I went to two websites, one a company based here in Tokyo, where I am, and the other a well-known online patent filing company in the US.  With the company based in Japan, the cost is about $ 2500.00 but does not include translation of some documents ( the translation fee for the application itself is about $ 30,00 for every 100 words. That does not sound cheap). There are fees for the initial application/ the patent search/ administrative paperwork/ and the actual registration. So figure at least $ 3000.00 to file a China patent through this company here in Japan.  The US-based company charges a flat $ 4400.00 for this. And this does not even take into account the time that one must spend getting the product ready to file a patent. Anyone who has filed a patent knows that the requirements for doing so involve quite a bit of work.

To me $ 4000,00 to $5000.00 is a lot of money to pay for a “strategic” move that in the end may not be very effective. Most of the small businesses I work with just do not have that kind of money in their budget. For this reason I always advise them not to overly concern themselves about their IP ( though they should think about it) and that their money would be better spent travelling to China to work with their current suppliers, finding new suppliers and inspecting their orders. In short, what they need to do to build their business.

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2 thoughts on “The cost to register a patent in China

  1. I think you are getting some poor advice on China based costs to register IP and the availability to enforce them once issued. The fact that you are looking in Japan and the USA to access advice on this issue indicates that you need some further exploration into China.
    Randall Lewis

  2. Randall:
    Thanks for your comment. With all due respect, I looked at about 10 websites of firms that specialize in IP protection in China, and the ballpark figure is what I gave in the post. I also ran this by an IP lawyer who agreed with the cost I had estimated. Obviously, it is probably much cheaper to do from within China, using a local law firm, but I always think it is best to have this handled by someone with whom there will be no language and/or cultural barriers, trademark and patent filings being what they are.

    BTW, I have plenty of “exploration” in China. I have lived or travelled there for 25 years.

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