Deep & Far Newsletter 2021 ©
The Greater China IP Updates
China tops World Intellectual Property Organization List
In WIPO¡¦s annual report for 2019, China ranked first for the number of international patent application filings, overtaking the United States which held top spot for more than 40 years. China had 58,990 applications filed in 2019 via WIPO¡¦s Patent Cooperation Treaty System with the U.S. in second position with 57,840 applications. Japan was third, Germany fourth and South Korea fifth. WIPO Director General Francis Gurry said that this shows the culture of innovation is strengthening in Asia. In 1999 China only made 276 patent applications, but twenty years later that had increased 200-fold. This is all part of the government¡¦s push to make China a higher-value economy by promoting innovation and setting the conditions for growing high-value industries. In fact, Chinese company Huawei Technologies was the top corporate filer for the third consecutive year. It¡¦s worth noting that this is happening in a global atmosphere of increased creativity as 2019 was a record breaking year with 265,800 international patent applications.
China Establishes Fast IPR Service Centers
China has set up 25 service centers to provide a swifter response to intellectual property rights (IPR) issues. The China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) aims to provide county-level industry clusters with faster pre-review processes, confirmation and rights protection on IPR-related issues. This is in response to the targeted regions which have become more focused on knowledge-intensive industries. As these regions switch from traditional labor-intensive industries, a knowledge gap is likely to occur. Anticipating this, the government has decided to invest in the centers which will help businesses get IP protection for example with the physical designs of popular items that are most at risk of being copied. The CNIPA has plans to expand the system as China becomes a more knowledge-based economy.
The Original Grant System in Hong Kong
When the patent system was reorganized in late 2019, one of the key features was the introduction of an original grant system for standard patents which would provide an alternative route for patent registration in Hong Kong. Previously, a patent application had to be filed first in either China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA), United Kingdom Patent Office (UKPO) or the European Patent Office (EPO). Then, it could be re-registered in Hong Kong. While this method can still be used, the new possibility is that applications for standard patents can be filed (in English or Chinese) in Hong Kong directly with the Patents Registry of the Hong Kong Intellectual Property Department either with a priority claim or as a first filing. Another change is to the short-term patent system which is valid for 8 years. Under the new system, two independent claims instead of just one can be made under a short-term application. This change allows applicants to seek protection of a product and process of an invention in one short-term application. One of the benefits of the new system is that applicants who are seeking protection only in Hong Kong no longer need to waste time and money by filing in one of the other administrations. It also raises the profile of Hong Kong as a patent administration center and as an additional IP protection bulwark for goods being exported from China via Hong Kong.