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Protection of IP rights gets further boost

Updated: Mar 2, 2020 China Daily Print
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China is speeding up the processing of patent and trademark reviews and improving legal protection for intellectual property rights owners after the nation saw such applications grow rapidly in recent years, the country's top IP regulator said.

By the end of 2022, the processing time for an invention patent application will be cut to 16.5 months and that for a high-value patent application to about 13.8 months, the National Intellectual Property Administration said in a recent statement. In addition, the average time for reviewing a trademark application will also be reduced to within four months — the fastest worldwide, according to the statement.

Last year, the average review time for trademark registration was shortened to 4.5 months, compared with six months in 2018, and the processing time for examination of high-value patents was reduced by more than 15 percent to 17.3 months, the latest administration data show.

The move to increase review efficiency is aimed at keeping up with the boom in IP applications and better safeguarding IP rights, according to the administration.

Figures from the administration show that more than 1.4 million invention patent applications were filed in the country last year, with 453,000 invention patents granted, and the total number of registered trademarks surpassed 25 million.

The country has also fought IPR infringement and offered stronger protection for IPR owners through rule of law over past decades, especially since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China Central Committee in late 2012, the statement said.

For example, the fine for those who maliciously damage others' trademarks was increased to 5 million yuan ($711,700) from 3 million yuan when the revised Trademark Law came into effect in November last year.

"It's a national move to implement a system of punitive damages for repeated and malicious infringements to raise the penalties for illegal acts," the statement said.

A draft amendment to the Patent Law — which was submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the top legislature, for review in 2018 — is seeking to raise fines to a range of 100,000 yuan to 5 million yuan when the loss to patent holders and the benefits gained by violators cannot be determined. The current range is 10,000 yuan to 1 million yuan.

The draft is expected to be further deliberated by national legislators this year, according to Yue Zhongming, spokesman for the NPC Standing Committee's Legislative Affairs Commission.

Renata Righetti Pelosi, a top international IP expert, said rapid IP development in China reflects "the commitment of the Chinese government to transform the economy from a manufacturing-based system to an economy based on innovation in science and technology".

Regarding the protection of rights, Pelosi, the president of the International Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property, said that the impression from abroad is that China is strongly committed to the introduction of new and increasingly stringent rules.

"A balance must be sought between the legitimate need for certainty of the scope of protection conferred by registration, and the opportunity to allow companies to obtain protection for the services that they actually provide," she told China Intellectual Property News in a recent interview.

She added that legislative efforts must be backed up by the spread of a culture that condemns misconduct.

"It's not just a problem for China, and education should be on the agenda of all institutions dealing with IP," she said.

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