Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Patent activity on water pollution and treatment in China—a scientometric perspective

  • 687 Accesses

  • 10 Citations


This research intends to investigate the patent activity on water pollution and treatment in China (1985–2007), and then compares the results with patents data about Triadic patents, South Korea, Brazil and India over the same periods, patents data were collected from Derwent World Patents Index between 1985 and May 2008. For this study, 169,312 patents were chosen and examined. Total volume of patents, technology focus, assignee sector, priority date and the comparison with other countries are analyzed. It is found that patents on water pollution and treatment filed at China have experienced a remarkable increase and the increase rate of patents filed at China change simultaneous with the percentage of domestic applications. However, the number of high quality Triadic patents with priority country as China remains small. Furthermore, in addition to individual patent assignees, both Chinese universities and enterprises also play important roles in patent activity of water pollution and treatment. In addition, the pattern of South Korea’s development can provide short-term implications for China and the regularity in Triadic patents’ development can provide some guidance to China’s long-term development. In contrast, the development pattern of Brazil and India is less influential to China’s development. Furthermore, China’s technology focuses on water pollution and treatment seem to parallel global and triadic patent trends. This research provides a comprehensive picture of China’s innovation capability in the area of water pollution and treatment. It will help China’s local governments to improve their regional S&T capability and will provide support the National Water Pollution Control and Treatment Project in China.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4


  1. Acosta, M., Coronado, D., et al. (2007). Exploring the quality of environmental technology in Europe: Evidence from patent citations, Conference on Environment Innovation and Performance, Grenoble, France, Springer.

  2. Azagra-Caro, J. M., Archontakis, F., et al. (2007). In which regions do universities patent and publish more?. Scientometrics, 70(2), 251–266.

  3. Banerjee, P., Gupta, B. M., et al. (2000). Patent statistics as indicators of competition an analysis of patenting in biotechnology. Scientometrics, 47(1), 95–116.

  4. Barroso, W. B. G., Quoniam L., et al. (2003). Analysis of a database of public domain Brazilian patent documents based on the Ipc. World Patent Information, 25, 63–69.

  5. Bhattacharya, S. (2004). Mapping inventive activity and technological change through patent analysis: A case study of India and China. Scientometrics, 61(3), 361–381.

  6. Breitzman, A. F., & Mogee, M. E. (2002). The many applications of patent analysis. Journal of Information Science, 28, 187–205.

  7. Chen, D. Z., Chang, H. W., et al. (2005). Core technologies and key industries in Taiwan from 1978 to 2002: A perspective from patent analysis. Scientometrics, 64(1), 31–53.

  8. Chen, C., & Kuljis, J. (2002). Knowledge domain visualization of patent citation analysis (1990–2001). In Proceedings of the 6th world multiconference on systemics, cybernetics and informatics (SCI2002), (pp. 132–137). Orlando, FL.

  9. Courtial, J. P., & Sigogneau, A. (1995). How to use scientific and technological information to reveal strategic technologics. International Journal of Technology Management, 10(1), 31–44.

  10. Fu, X. L., & Yang, Q. G. (2009). Exploring the cross-country gap in patenting: A stochastic frontier approach. Research Policy, 38(7), 1203–1213.

  11. Garg, K. C., & Padhi, P. (1998). Scientometric study of laser patent literature. Scientometrics, 43(3), 443–454.

  12. Grupp, H., & Schmoch, U. (1999). Patent statistics as economic indicators. Research Policy, 377–396.

  13. Igami, M. (2008). Exploration of the evolution of nanotechnology via mapping of patent applications. Scientometrics, 77(2), 289–308.

  14. Kettenring, J. R. (2007). A patent analysis of cluster analysis, 6th international satellite symposium on business and industrial statistics. Sao Miguel, Portugal: Wiley.

  15. Lee, S., Yoon, B., et al. (2009). Business planning based on technological capabilities: Patent analysis for technology-driven roadmapping. Technological Forecasting and Social Change 76(6), 769–786.

  16. Leng, H., & Yuan, Q. (2007). The restoration and reconstruction of Cheonggyecheon in Seoul of Korea. Urban Planning International, 22(4), 43–47 (in Chinese).

  17. Lo, S. C. (2007). Patent analysis of genetic engineering research in Japan, Korea and Taiwan, Scientometrics, 70(1), 183–200.

  18. Lo, S. C. (2008). Patent coupling analysis of primary organizations in genetic engineering research. Scientometrics, 74(1), 143–151.

  19. Ministry of Environmental Protection of the People’s Republic of China (MEP). (2009). National water environment quality in 2006. Retrieved 24 Sept 2009 from http://www.zhb.gov.cn/cont/swrkz/shzl/200902/t20090203133891.htm. (in Chinese).

  20. Mure, D. (2007). China cuts water supplies to 200,000. Retrieved 24 Sept 2009 from http://blogdofavre.ig.com.br/2007/07/china-cuts-water-supplies-to-200000//.

  21. Narin, F. (1994). Patent bibliometrics. Scientometrics, 30(1), 147–155.

  22. Narin, F., Noma, E., & Perry, R. (1987). Patents as indicators of corporate technological strength. Research Policy, 16, 143–155.

  23. Narin, F., & Rozek, R. P. (1988). Bibliometric analysis of us pharmaceutical industry research performance. Research Policy, 17, 139–154.

  24. OECD. (2000). Compendium of patent statistics. Retrieved Jan 25, 2009 from http://www.Oecd.Org/Dataoecd/5/19/37569377.Pdf.

  25. Porter, A. L., & Cunningham, S. W. (2005). Tech mining: Exploiting new technologies for competitive advantage. Hoboken, NJ: Willey.

  26. Sakata, J., Suzuki, K., et al. (2009). The analysis of research and development efficiency in Japanese companies in the field of fuel cells using patent data. R&D Management, 39(3), 291–304.

  27. Sharma, S., & Thomas, V. J. (2008). Inter-country R&D efficiency analysis: An application of data envelopment analysis. Scientometrics, 76(3), 483–501.

  28. Sternitzke, C. (2009). Technological specialization and patenting strategies in East Asia—Insights from the electronics industry. Scientometrics, 78(1), 69–76.

  29. Trajtenberg, M. (2001). Innovation in Israel 1968–1997: A comparative analysis using patent data. Research Policy, 30, 363–389.

  30. Tseng, C. Y. (2009). Technological innovation and knowledge network in Asia: Evidence from comparison of information and communication technologies among six countries. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 76(5), 654–663.

  31. United Nations/World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP). (2003). 1st UN World water development report: Water for people, water for life. Paris, New York and Oxford. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and Berghahn Books.

  32. World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP). (2009). The United Nations world water development report 3: Water in a changing world. Paris: UNESCO/London: Earthscan.

  33. Yang, J. J. (2009). Study on the sustainable utilization of water resources in Laoshan district. Qingdao City, Ocean University of China (in Chinese).

  34. Yu, W. D., & Lo, S. S. (2009). Patent analysis-based fuzzy inference system for technological strategy planning. Automation in Construction, 18(6), 770–776.

  35. Zhou, E. Y., & Stembridge, B. (2008). Patented in China: The present and future state of innovation in China. Retrieved Dec 20, 2008 from http://www.Scientific.Thomsonreuters.Com/Press/Pdf/Tl/Wiptchina08.Pdf.

Download references


This project was supported by a grant (No. 70973118) from the National Science Foundation of China(NSFC) and a grant (No. 20060390049) from China Postdoctoral Science Foundation.

Author information

Correspondence to Jun Peng Yuan.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Yuan, J.P., Yue, W.P., Su, C. et al. Patent activity on water pollution and treatment in China—a scientometric perspective. Scientometrics 83, 639–651 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-009-0126-7

Download citation


  • Scientometrics
  • DWPI database
  • Patent analysis
  • Water Pollution and Treatment in China