As China’s brand expands its global reach, knowledge of international developments in IP rights becomes crucial. Nandini Lakshman checks out the world’s hotspots

China’s buoyant economic growth has spurred cash-rich mainland companies to expand at a rapid rate into the world’s markets. Last year, in what Beijing referred to “as a landmark milestone”, China dislodged the US as the largest trader globally.

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Its exports rose 7.9% from a year earlier to notch US$2.21 trillion in 2013. As the world’s supply chain basin, electronics and cars have emerged as prominent items in the nation’s export tableau. According to 2013 World Intellectual Property Organisation figures, China was the third-largest patent filer globally – after the US and Japan – with 21,516 applications. It also filed 2,359 trademark applications.

The US is China’s second-largest export market, and the pressing challenge for Chinese IP owners there is to clearly understand the US patent application process, which changed last year from a first-to-invent to first-to-file system, points out William Borchard, a New York-based counsel at Cowan Liebowitz & Latman.

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