Issues on Patent and Copyright Laws In China
This site contains information on China's patent and copyright law. It goes on to discuss some ethical issues about China's lack of law enforcement on intellectual property protection.
History of Patent System
China’s patent system can be traced back to the late Qing Dynasty when China began signing international treaties. For example, on August 18, 1903, China and the United States agreed on a treaty on navigation and commerce. The treaty provided for a “reciprocal patent-granting arrangement whereby citizens of one contracting party could apply for and secure patent rights for their inventions in the other contracting party.”1 After the Qing Dynasty was over thrown in 1911, the Nationalist government created the Interim Charter on Rewarding Industrial and Artistic Products. And soon thereafter, in 1944, the Patent Law of modern sense was created. Although the Patent Law was adopted in China, the Nationalist government was forced to Taiwan and thus the Patent Law had no effect in mainland China. In 1949, the new government adopted the Provisional Regulations on the Protection of the Invention Rights and Patent Rights, whose purpose was to encourage invention. In 1978, the government reissued the Regulations on Awards for Technical Improvements and the Regulations on Awards for Inventions which were first issued in 1963 and abolished soon after. Then in 1985 the Patent Law was introduced. China’s Patent Law went through a critical revision in 1992. Amendments were focused on the areas pharmaceutics, chemicals, food, beverages and condiments.1
Current Patent Law
The Patent Law of the People’s Republic of China was adopted at the Fourth Session of the Standing Committee of the Sixth National People’s Congress on March 12, 1984. It came into effect on April 1, 1985 and was amended in 1992.1
The Patent Law protects both domestic and foreign inventions provided that the inventors have applied for patent protection in China.
Scope of Protection:2
In Article 1 of the Patent Law, it states the right to patent protection for “inventions-creations.” Article 2 defines inventions-creations as inventions, utility models, and designs. These are also defined by rule 2 of the Implementing Regulations:
1. ‘Invention’ means any new technical solution relating to a product, process, or
improvement upon either of these;
2. ‘Utility models’ means any new technical solution in respect to the shape and/or
structure of a product fit for practical use; and
3. ‘Design means any new design of a product’s shape, pattern, color, or combination
thereof which creates an aesthetic feeling while also being fit for industrial
The patent rights can be granted to these types of intellectual property as stated above. The patent right for an invention will last for a period of 15 years. Utility models or industrial design patents last for five years.