How to Apply for Patent in Mainland China and what is the Standard Process?

A: The Standard Process for Chinese Citizens: Any unit or individual can entrust a patent agency or directly file a patent application to the State Intellectual Property Office (the “SIPO”). To apply, the application documents shall be prepared according to the patent law and the official fee shall be paid. The application documents can be submitted to the SIPO by post, by hand or can even be sent to the local representative offices of SIPO.

After application is filed to the SIPO, application for invention will be granted if it passes the preliminary examination and substantive examination, however, the application for utility model and design only shall pass the preliminary examination. The respective examination period of invention utility models and designs is about 3 years, 10 to 12 months and 8 to 10 months.

B. The Standard Process for Foreigners: Currently, foreign individuals or enterprises mostly apply for patents in China according to the Patent Cooperation Treaty (the “PCT”) or the Paris Convention on Protection of Industrial Property (the “PCPIP”) (the trial PPH introduced in this Newsletter is a rapid examination mechanism according to the PCT or PCPIP). The PCPIP way means an applicant, within 12 months from the day on which he has filed a patent application in a contracting party to PCPIP, files another patent application in other contracting parties and claims the right to priority. However, most foreign enterprises currently apply for patent in China by PCT way that is to submit the PCT application within 12 months after the first filing day of the patent application. Moreover, the PCT application for access to China shall be applied within 30 months (and no more than 32 months) after the first filing day. According to the Patent Law of China, where a foreigner, a foreign enterprise or any other foreign organization that has no habitual abode or business office in China intends to apply for a patent or handle other patent-related matters in China, shall authorize a legitimately formed patent agency to act on his/her or its behalf. Then the SIPO will examine such application and the examination period is almost the same as that of domestic application.

(By Gao Shaoyi)

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