Long derided as an economic entity happier to copy than to invent, the number of patents filed and assigned in China has been growing at 13% annually in the two decades to 2006, with a total of 1.1 million patents awarded. Private enterprises, after a slow start, are now leading the charge in securing an ever bigger number of patents, especially after 2001. Individuals, meanwhile, are the second most prolific group. What causes this surge in patent applications? What are some of the issues involved? SMU management professor Kenneth Huang details findings from a recent study.