International Patent Applications in China


Courtesy of International Business Law Services

China has joined the growing list of countries allowing electronic filing of patent applications; the first day of the service was May 1, 2007.  Sophisticated software enables electronic filing of international patent applications with cooperation of the World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO), Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). The WIPO is the “cornerstone of the international patent system” and its dynamic system, offering quick, flexible and economical approach to establishing patents in nearly 140 countries. In regards to China establishing this Intellectual Property (IP) milestone, and also the great interest in Chinese business, these questions will be answered: What Software is used for the Electronic Patent Process? How Does PCT-SAFE Filing Work? What Benefits are gained by Filing with the Electronic System? How Big Have Chinese Patent Applications Become? What IP Legislation does China Have for Patent Protection?
China newly implemented software for the electronic filing of international patent applications is the foundation of their entire patent filing system, which makes a formerly clunky process smooth and risk-free. The software, called “PCT-SAFE” (“Secure Applications Filed Electronically”), has been in use for awhile and working in patent offices across the globe, such as Australia, Denmark, the European Patent Office (EPO), Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Malaysia, Netherlands, Philippines, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom and the United States of America.  Since February 2004, the software has added the superb capability of allowing businesses and inventors the ability to seek multiple-country patents by electronically submitting an international application under the PCT. In this instance, the WIPO acts as the receiving office of the patent filed.
How Does PCT-SAFE Filing Work?
According to the WIPO, the PCT-SAFE system has four major components:1)  PCT-SAFE client for preparing the PCT request form: in case of e-filing, it is also used for securely transmitting the entire application to the receiving office;2)  PCT-SAFE Editor: a word processor-like tool that enables users to prepare the text and drawings of a PCT application in electronic format (the application will be saved in Extensible Markup Language (XML)) for e-filing purposes;

3) Security services and a Public Key Infrastructure (PKI);

4) A receiving server for use in receiving Offices that includes a back-end system to print and securely store the received data.


What Benefits are Gained by Filing with the Electronic Patent System?
Chinese patent applicants who organize and submit PCT applications via electronic format will help the patent office by ensuring a more orderly, timely and efficient process. This cuts down on paper handling and eliminates traditional mail routines. In return, WIPO will allow the following, (i) fee reductions in some instances; (ii) eliminated or reduced costs for printing, copying and mailing the applications; (iii) Near instantaneous notification when the application is received and processed; and (iv) Easy and secure transmission of international applications.
How Big Have Chinese Patent Applications Become?
China is the 8th largest country for filing PCT applications and this grew by 57% from 2005 to 2006. Beyond this, the WIPO World Patent Report 2006 stated that China is now the 4th largest patent office in the world in terms of total patent applications filed.  While Chinese residents had an individual patent filing increase of greater than five-fold from 1995 to 2004, resulting in 65,786 patents placed; worldwide, a mere five patent offices account for three-quarters of all patents filed across the globe. The five top patent filers nations are the United States, Japan, South Korea, China and the European Patent Office (EPO).
What IP Legislation does China Have for Patent Protection?
China has placed a great deal of importance on patent registration (PR) legislation since the implementation of a legislative reform intending to protect fair market competition, safeguard market economic freedom and order, and promote economic and cultural development.Beginning in 1984, China has toiled to create and implement a reformed Patent Law, which was then amended in 1992. Despite starting late with IPR Legislation, China has used international models of successful patent legislation to draw on for IPR legislation, putting a Chinese slant upon the process. To help the effort, China joined the World Intellectual Property Organization, the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, the Strasbourg Agreement Concerning the International Patent Classification, the Locarno Agreement Establishing an International Classification for Industrial Designs, and has also signed reciprocal agreements for IPR protection with the U.S. and other countries.The Chinese Supreme Court has formulated and established almost twenty judicial interpretations and explanatory papers in the last several decades, which were based upon apparent need arising from Patent cases. These include: “the circular on Several Issues concerning Trials of Patent Cases(February 1985), the Circular on the Issues of Geographical Jurisdiction over Patent Dispute Cases( June 1987 ), the Circular on Several Issues concerning Trial of Cases Involving Patent Application Disputes (October 1987 ), the Answers to Several Questions on Trial of Patent Dispute Cases ( December 1992 ), the Circular on Further Strengthening Judicial Protection of IPR  (September 1994 ), and the Opinions on the Correct Handling of Several Issues in Cases Involving Science and Technology Disputes ( April 1995 ).

One Response to “International Patent Applications in China”

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