The number of 20-year patent applications filed with the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) already ranks China third in the world after Japan and the US. Furthermore, the growth rate of 20-year patent applications filed in China with the SIPO between 2000 and 2006 averaged over 20 percent. All the published Chinese applications and issued patents are also freely available through the SIPO’s website.
At the same time, cases dealing with intellectual property issues involving international companies have increased in China. The number of cases where at least one of the parties was a non-Chinese company reached 268 in 2005. This was an increase of 77.5 percent over the previous year. Contrary to popular belief, a level playing field seems to have emerged for foreign companies within the intellectual property system of China: according to the records of the No.1 Intermediate Court of Beijing, foreign parties won 60 percent of the cases.
Patent Strategies for China
Currently China is the third largest patent filing jurisdiction in the world. If the current growth rate of patent applications (20-year patents) continues in both countries, China will overtake the US by 2012. In 2007 there were 245,161 20-year patent applications filed in China, of which more than 62.4 percent were domestic applications. The year-on-year increase in the filing of domestic 20-year patent applications was 25.1 percent, whereas that of foreign filings was only 4.5 percent. This is a clear indication of the increasing awareness of the need for patent-application filing among domestic Chinese companies.
China is already a hub where key players from every industry have – or are likely to have in the near future – a strong presence. Unfortunately, China is also known as a place where unprotected technology is likely to be copied. If a company wants to manufacture – or sell – its products or services in China, it must protect its intellectual property in the country. Excellent knowledge of the Chinese patent system is necessary.
- Dr. Lefan Gong, Zhonglun Law Firm
In cross border transactions, it is not uncommon for parties to struggle over the dispute resolution clause. However, these negotiations often miss the important points. Some counsels are inclined to select forums that are more familiar to themselves; others insist on choosing locations that appear “neutral” to all parties (i.e., Switzerland). In neither situation is counsel adequately considering the ultimate enforceability of rights, timing and convenience of the dispute resolution process.
- Armstrong Teasdale LLP
On June 29, 2007, after more than two years of drafting/deliberation and an unprecedented amount of public comment, China enacted the PRC Employment Contract Law (the “ECL”). The following article summarizes key provisions of the PRC Employment Contract Law, which became effective on January 1, 2008. The PRC Employment Contract Law has been controversial among employers in China because of its increased employee protections. It is critical for foreign investors to understand the ECL before entering into new contracts with Chinese employees.