Shenzhen has witnessed the birth of many new technologies and is home to the China headquarters of many multinational firms.
At the same time, it is also a knockoff hub where lots of people have made a fortune by copying other people’s products.
That is perhaps why speed is everything in Shenzhen’s tech ecosystem.
Shenzhen has filed more than 20,000 patent applications under the World Intellectual Property Organization’s Patent Cooperation Treaty last year, the highest among Chinese cities.
Generally, it takes two years to get a patent application approved.
As such, foreign companies are often willing to spend more time on basic research and issues like product safety to make sure their inventions or new designs can meet all the requirements and get approval in one go.
Chinese firms, including those in Shenzhen, often adopt another approach. They would churn out as many different designs as possible within the shortest period of time, while paying less attention to details, and submit them all for patent in the hope that at least one or two of the applications would be approved.
I believe that while speed is important, ethics, integrity and compliance issues should also be observed. Otherwise, things could easily backfire.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Nov 30
Translation by Julie Zhu
[Chinese version 中文版]
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