Intellectual Property

Why intellectual property is key to the trade dispute between the US and China

VIDEO11:2411:24
Why trademarks and patents are so valuable
Key Points
  • Intellectual property will remain a sticking point between the U.S. and China as they compete to develop next-generation technologies.
  • Lawmakers and academics have expressed concerns that a large portion of Chinese trademark applications are fraudulent, meaning they do not correspond with real brands.

Patent and trademark infringement was a key part of the "phase one" trade agreement between the U.S. and China earlier this month, but business leaders and policymakers say the intellectual property will remain a sticking point between the two countries as they compete to develop next-generation technologies.

Of the 3.3 million patent applications filed worldwide in 2018, China accounted for roughly half, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization. Computer technology and electrical machinery were the most popular categories of patent applications from China as the country aims to be a world leader in areas like 5G wireless networks and artificial intelligence.

China's effort to dominate the landscape for intellectual property also extends to trademarks. The country now accounts for more than 10% of all trademark applications filed in the U.S., according to research by New York University law professors Barton Beebe and Jeanne Fromer. In recent years, lawmakers and academics have expressed concerns that a large portion of these applications are fraudulent, meaning they do not correspond with real brands.

Watch the video to see why patents and trademarks are so valuable to the world's two biggest economies.