U.S. Patents and Competitiveness with China

Key Points

Claims that China is innovating because of stronger patent protections misinterpret the facts. China is stimulating technological growth through government investment, subsidies, and prizes; the numbers show that patents are playing a relatively small role.
Issues of “intellectual property theft” in China do not warrant stronger U.S. patent protection. The “intellectual property” that is the subject of theft is trade secrets, not patents.
If the United States wants to accelerate technological development in the same way that China is doing, we should encourage competition, not more patents. Competition among U.S. firms has always been the driver of technological advances.

“If patents become too powerful an enforcement tool, they could ultimately be turned into weapons against American companies, further stymieing domestic innovation and giving a leg up to foreign competitors.”

Press release: R Street Policy Short: U.S. Patents and Competitiveness with China

Image credit: Olivier Le Moal

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