Bull Group (Gongniu Dianqi), one of China’s biggest household electronics firms, was well on its way to an IPO last week, when it was hit by a patent suit (Chinese link) for RMB 1 billion (about $149 million). In China, it was a novelty—the tech world here isn’t used to blockbuster intellectual property fights. But as more Chinese startups go to market, we’re going to have to get used to them. How many startups are ready?

Chinese intellectual property protection has got a bad rap during the trade war. The US has accused it of refusing to protect patents in order to steal technology. But the truth is that we in China’s high tech sector need a strong patent system to protect our own IP. China leads the world in the number of patents filed.

In China’s technology sector, it feels a bit different. China’s large jumps in patents, in addition to big strides in copyright, trademarks, and other forms of IP have come to a turning point. China is producing films that gross over a billion dollars, and is home to some 30% of the world’s 200 plus unicorns—none of which would be possible without some sort of effective IP protection.

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Yu Uny Cao

Yu Uny Cao has been in technology management, startup and invention for over two decades. He is currently a vice president at Zhejiang Intellectual Property Exchange Center.