After 15 years of operation, the Patent Law of the People's Republic of China underwent a second amendment on August 25 and will go into effect on July 1, 2001. The amendments have helped to close loopholes that became evident in the original version, and gives greater emphasis to individual advantages in patent application and the execution of patent rights.
Promoting Science and Technology
Patent rights can fall into two categories, occupational and non-occupational. However, the demarcation line is hard to draw in practice. What if an individual takes advantage of the convenience of his or her occupational facilities to develop his private patent? The new Patent Law has provided the legal means to solve this problem, stipulating that the parties concerned should draw up contracts in advance to clarify the ownership of the would-be patent.
The new Patent Law has also created the concept of rewarding inventors with economic returns. In the past, an immediate bonus was available to those who contributed to the patent development. Now, to encourage creativity, long-term rewards are offered to inventors according to the economic returns achieved by application of the patent.
According to the new Patent Law, state-owned and private enterprises will enjoy the same status in terms of patent application and authorization.
Enhancing Legal Protection
The new Patent Law stipulates that, without the permission of the patentee, no unit or individual is allowed to apply the patent. Any unauthorized manufacturing, use, sale or import activities related to a patent will be classified as illegal.
This amendment highlights the fundamental purpose of the Patent Law to encourage innovation by providing legal protection. The current Patent Law went into effect on April 1, 1985. But, given the pace of reform and opening up, amendment was needed to meet the needs of foreign investment absorption.
Perfecting and Standardizing Procedures
In terms of patent application and protection, the New Patent Law has simplified procedures, economized resources, and ease the burden of patent disputes.
First, the legal basis for international patent application is clarified. The PCT (Patent Cooperation Treaty) has been adopted worldwide to facilitate inventors in applying for patents in more than one country. On January 1, 1994, China became a signatory country to the PCT. The new Patent Law includes principal regulations for dealing with this.
Meanwhile, procedures for patent conveyance and for overseas patent application are also simplified.
A more powerful guardian for innovation, the New Patent Law creates favorable conditions for China's accession to the WTO and for the establishment of fair, reasonable and orderly market competition.