II. Patent Protection
With the establishment of the China Patent Office in 1980, China's patent work has developed continuously over 25 years. In April 1, 1985, the "Patent Law of the People's Republic of China" went into effect. Following that, China promulgated several patent-related laws and regulations, such as the "Rules for the Implementation of the Patent Law," "Regulations on Patent Commissioning," "Procedures for the Administrative Enforcement of Laws Concerning Patents," and "Regulations on the Implementation of Customs Protection of Patent Rights." China has twice made revisions to the "Patent Law" in the light of the requirements of social and economic development so as to enable it to improve continuously.
By mainly relying on its own resources, China has
established a relatively complete and independent patent
examination system in a short period of time. On January 1,
1994, China became a member state of the "Patent Cooperation
Treaty." The China Patent Office is China's agency dealing
with cases involving the Patent Cooperation Treaty, performing
international patent searches and preliminary examinations.
Meanwhile, China has established a fairly comprehensive system
for patent work. Relevant departments of the State Council and
local governments have established patent administrative
organs in accordance with the provisions of the "Patent Law."
China now has more than 5,000 people working in patent
agencies, and a service system mainly providing patent
commissioning, patent information, patent technology transfer
intermediary and patent technology evaluation services has
taken initial shape.
By the end of 2004, the State Intellectual Property Office had approved 1,255,499 patents. Of these, 1,093,268 were domestic ones, and 162,231 were from other countries, accounting for 87.1 and 12.9 percent of the total number of approved patents, respectively. The numbers of invention patents, utility model patents and exterior design patents that had been approved were 185,412, 651,224 and 418,863, accounting for 14.8, 51.9 and 33.3 percent respectively. In 2004, the State Intellectual Property Office approved 190,238 patents, an increase of 4.4 percent over the previous year, which had 182,226. It approved 151,328 domestic patents, an increase of 1.2 percent, compared with 149,588 in the previous year. At the same time, it approved 38,910 foreign patents, an increase of 19.2 percent over the previous year, which saw 32,638.
The "Regulations on the Protection of Layout Design of Integrated Circuits" went into effect in China on October 1, 2001. By the end of 2004, the State Intellectual Property Office had received 682 applications for the registration of layout design of integrated circuits. It registered 571 of them, and issued related public notices as well as certificates to the applicants. In 2004 alone, the State Intellectual Property Office received 244 applications for the registration of layout design of integrated circuits. It registered 205 of them, and issued related public notices as well as certificates to the applicants.
In recent years, patent administration departments at all levels have strengthened administrative enforcement of the law in this respect. In particular, they have launched crackdowns on infringements of patent rights of food and medicines, which are closely connected with people's health and lives. They have made great efforts to investigate and deal with cases that infringe upon the patent rights of key technologies and cases that had widespread repercussions. They have also conscientiously investigated and dealt with infringements and counterfeits of patent rights of inventions, utility models and exterior designs. Following the State Council's unified plan, in August 2004, the State Intellectual Property Office issued the "Work Program on Strengthening Enforcement of the Laws on Intellectual Property Rights and Launching a Special Law Enforcement Campaign." All subsidiary departments under the State Intellectual Property Office were mobilized to participate in the campaign. By the end of that year, local intellectual property offices had checked 10,251 industrial venues and examined 2,081,537 commodity items. By the end of 2004, local patent administration departments across the country had accepted 12,058 cases involving patent infringement and patent disputes, and 10,411 of the cases, or 86.3 percent, were resolved. In 2004, local patent administration departments accepted 1,455 cases involving patent disputes, and 1,215 of them were resolved. They also dealt with 3,965 cases of patent counterfeits, and 358 cases of unauthorized use of others' patents.