In a speech to the annual open house at the State Intellectual Property Office, Commissioner Tian Lipu told the audience that "intellectual property is increasingly becoming a strategic resource for a nation's development and a core element for international competition".
"Further implementation of our national strategy and overall improvement in capacities for IP creation, application, protection and management are significant to building an innovation-backed country," he said.
The audience for his remarks on April 27 at SIPO headquarters in Beijing was not the usual corporate executives, government officials or scholars - but more than 100 students from Beijing primary and secondary schools.
"We open our door and welcome more people to approach IP," Tian said.
Statistics from the World Intellectual Property Organization ranked China fourth globally in 2011 international patent applications.
The number filed from China through the Patent Cooperation Treaty has increased more than 30 percent for two consecutive years, the top growth among patent application powerhouses.
"That shows that our country will become an important force in technology innovation worldwide," Tian said.
Yet despite the growing numbers, China's PCT filings still lag far behind the top patent nation with less than one-third those from the United States, Zhou Jianhua, deputy headmaster of a high school affiliated with Renmin University of China, noted at the meeting.
Of the top 50 universities in PCT applications, only one is from China, while 30 are from the US, Zhou added.
"We're proud that ancient Chinese creations made huge contributions to progress, yet at the same time we feel ashamed that our technological innovation and cultural creation both face challenges in modern times," he said.
Zhou said his school's IP education team has conducted a survey in 79 elementary and secondary schools in Beijing and Shanghai, as well as various provinces such as Sichuan, Hunan and Yunnan.
The results show almost all respondent students have purchased pirated DVDs.
He also cited another survey that found nearly one-third of 256 vocational teachers from 100 Beijing secondary schools are themselves unclear about what IP is.
Zhou suggested creating an innovation-friendly culture at campus that helps cultivate awareness in students for respecting IP rights and encourages them to develop creative thinking and skills through a reformed approach to teaching.
"Behind every great creation is a story about people, which is about exploring a new path set by each individual's curiosity, insight and determination - their innovations have enormous influence on us, changing our lives and even the way society runs," Zhou told the audience when commenting on the theme of this year's World IP Day -"visionary inventors".
"It is not just a campaign slogan, but should be a dream to persistently pursue and a strength to inspire you," Commissioner Tian said. "I believe that in the near future, there'll be 'visionary inventors' who could say 'I took part in SIPO's Open House on April 27, 2012'."
(China Daily 05/09/2012 page17)