China's first intellectual property alliance in the automobile industry was established last week to adapt to the environment leaning toward electrification, artificial intelligence and connectivity.
Nine domestic auto industrial leaders and research institutes founded the alliance at the opening ceremony of the 2019 China Automobile Intellectual Property Annual Conference in Baoji, Northwest China's Shaanxi province. Members include the China Automotive Technology and Research Center, BYD, Great Wall Motor and BAIC Motor.
"The alliance will play an important role in strengthening industrial self-discipline, improving IP applications and creating a fair and competitive innovation environment," said Wang Weiming, an official with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
The new group will also help remove IP barriers, protect domestic automakers against IP risks when going global and improve the industry's overall performance in IP creation, protection and utilization, said officials and experts.
Yan Jianlai, deputy secretary-general of the China Society of Automotive Engineers, said China has been at the center of the global auto industry revolution driven by IP-dominant technical changes.
"I expect China's auto industry to usher in an era with a surge of patents and other IP rights," Yan said.
More Chinese companies are realizing that competitiveness relies on their capability to develop technologies and new products. This is especially true during the market slowdown period, which has greatly increased research and development input, Yan said.
China's leading technologies in the application of new energy, especially in the use of pure electricity, hybrid and hydrogen fuel, will help the industry turn from manufacturing to innovation. In that course, a large number of patents will be produced, he noted.
Yan Min, director of legal affairs and IP department of Foton Motor, a subsidiary of BAIC, said auto companies are facing rising IP lawsuits. "Only a company with powerful IP rights can win amid the rising market competition."
She pointed out that Chinese automakers have a great number of IP assets. But most of them are used for manufacturing rather than licensing, transfer or other means of adding value to their patented technologies.
The latest patent and innovation index of the auto industry, released by Yan Jinlai's organization at the annual conference, indicated that Chinese automakers are still lagging behind foreign companies in comprehensive performance.
In the category of Chinese auto companies, BYD ranked first with a comprehensive score of 3,881, followed by Geely and Chery. In the chart of foreign-funded companies, Toyota ranked top with a comprehensive score of 10,000, followed by Bosch and GE.