Last year, the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO), (now, the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA)), announced Administrative Measures for Prioritized Examination[1] (“the Measures”), which took effect as of August 1, 2017.  At the anniversary of the measures, we explain how domestic and foreign applicants can use the measures to expedite examination of their patent applications.
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As of September 1, 2018, the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA – the new name for the combined China Patent & Trademark Office) will no longer automatically retrieve electronic priority documents from the USPTO via the PDX system.  Instead, CNIPA will retrieve priority documents via WIPO DAS, which will require providing the DAS access code.  The access code is the 4-digit confirmation number listed on USPTO filing receipts and used in the USPTO Electronic Filing System (EFS) and does not need to be requested independently from WIPO.
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In light of China’s merging of Patent and Trademark Offices, China has renamed the State Intellectual Property Office to the National Intellectual Property Administration (中国国家知识产权局). Both English and Chinese websites now show the new name as of August 29, 2018.  Click here for more information about the restructuring.

On March 29, 2018, the State Council issued Measures for transferring Intellectual Property rights (IPR) to foreign parties (Pilot) (hereinafter called “Measures”). The Measures are effective immediately and apply to all technical IPR (i.e., patents, registered integrated circuit layout designs, computer software copyrights and new plant varieties rights). According to the Measures, in IPR export and M&A approval process, a relevant IP department under the State Council (e.g., the State Intellectual Property Office) must conduct additional review before IPR transfer to a foreign entity or before foreign investors acquire Chinese companies that include IPR transfer.  Previously, in IPR export approval process, only non-IP departments reviewed IPR transfer. In M&A approval process, no government departments reviewed IPR transfer.
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This March, the Beijing Intellectual Property Court (the court) held that the deadline for claiming domestic priority is when an applicant completes registration formalities (i.e., pays required fees) and not later, when SIPO actually grants a resulting patent. In an administrative trial ((2015) JingZhiXingChuZi No.:2822), Richtek Electronics Co., Ltd. (Richtek) sued the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) based on a Notification that a claim to priority in a later-filed application was deemed not to have been made since the later-filed application was filed after payment of fees but before grant of the parent application.

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Unlike the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) which substantially increased some of its fees as of January 16, 2018[1], China’s State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) has waived[2] some of its patent fees as of August 1, 2018.  This approach aims at reducing the financial burden to applicants and patent owners, and encouraging patent filings.
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Filing UM and Invention Simultaneously in China

For “products” (generally, mechanical inventions), Applicants can file both a utility model (UM) and invention patent simultaneously[1].The advantage of filing both UM and invention patent applications is that the UM will grant quickly (usually within 6 – 12 months since not substantively examined) thereby providing some patent protection while the invention patent application is undergoing examination, which can take several years. Note though UMs are only valid for 10 years from filing and do not protect methods.  Invention patents are generally considered more valuable than UMs since they last 20 years from filing and have a broader protection scope (i.e., can claim methods).
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On May 7th this year, China National Drug Administration (CNDA) released a proposed draft of special review and approval procedure for innovative medical devices. The procedure intends to expedite approval for medical devices if the Applicant has patents or patent applications pending in China. This draft contains several major revisions compared with the previous version issued in 2014.
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The State Council of China announced in April this year a plan to extend patent protection for up to five years for innovative drugs due to regulatory delay.  However, the State Council has not disclosed specific rules nor timetable for same.  Meanwhile, in May this year, China and the United States issued a joint statement

China implemented a Patent Prosecution Highway program to expedite examination of invention patent applications in December 2011. In the year of 2016, (the year for which most recent data is available) the China State Intellectual Property Office had received 5,274 requests for expedited examination via the PPH program, among which 1,904 were filed by U.S. applicants and second only to Japanese Patent Office (JPO)[1]. We believe the number of requests will keep growing as USPTO is examining applications faster, which means faster grants and therefore more Applicants will be eligible to take advantage of the PPH in China.

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