By Tu Lei
Approximately 100 million yuan ($14.65 million) will be made available to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) applying for patents abroad, according to an announcement issued by the Ministry of Finance (MOF).
The new policy, the first of its kind, will award SMEs and other organizations that meet the government's standards as much as 500,000 yuan ($73,238) for each patent application abroad.
The patents must first be approved by the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO), and State-owned enterprises are not eligible for the subsidy.
The move is part of a multi-year plan to help promote SMEs' growth that has involved increasing loans and opening up a new Growth Enterprise Board to expand financing channels.
SMEs, 95 percent of which are privately-owned, have played an increasingly important role in China's economy over the last several years. SMEs contribute to 60 percent of China's GDP, 50 percent of tax revenues, 68 percent of exports and 75 percent of new jobs every year, according to official statistics.
Details will be forthcoming on whether joint ventures or solely foreign-funded enterprises will be eligible, said Lei Xiaoyun, an official from SIPO.
SMEs accounted for 66 percent of patent applications in China in 2008, but overseas is a different story.
Ma Hongya, an official from the Beijing Intellectual Property Bureau, told the Global Times that the Chinese firms applying for patents abroad are mainly large companies, and SMEs cannot afford to carry out the procedures and research an application requires.
"The main problem SMEs face when applying for patents overseas is money shortages," SIPO's Lei told the Global Times yesterday, adding the move should encourage more applications and protect domestic intellectual property rights.
In the beginning, the subsidies will go to companies that can have an impact on their market. Later, key industries that have high development potential will be supported, Lei said.
Zhuo Xiaoyuan, the head of a small business that has already submitted four patent applications to SIPO, said that applications cost around 100,000 yuan ($14,647) on average in 16 countries and regions per year.
"[The rule] is good news for our company because the amount will help us cover a lot of the costs of the application," she added.
But it is not the high time for Zhuo to relax.
"I'm worried the policy will be altered before my company can take advantage of it," she said.
Shares up 1.44% led by commodity producers
Equities rose 1.44 percent yesterday led by coal producers, steel makers, and real estate and oil companies.
The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index rose 41.71 points, or 1.44 percent, to end at 2,936.19.
The Shenzhen Component Index increased 131.01 points, or 1.12 percent to close at 11,874.90.
Combined turnover fell to 138.52 billion yuan ($20.37 billion) from 155.64 billion yuan on the previous trading day.
Zhengzhou Coal Industry & Electric Power rose by the daily limit of 10 percent. China Shenhua Energy finished up 2.7 percent in Shanghai, while Guangdong Baolihua New Energy Stock jumped 7.2 percent in Shenzhen.
Baosteel moved up 2.26 percent in Shanghai. PetroChina gained 1.08 percent to 13.12 yuan. Sinolink Securities' analyst Cao Lei told the Global Times that commodities stocks were pulled up by an increase in international oil prices, ending up 2 percent to $73.27.
Finance stocks continued to rise, bolstered by Central Huijin's raising stakes in the three largest listed banks.
Chen Xiaomin contributed to the story
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