Types of patents in China
In 1984, the government enacted the Chinese Patent Law, which came into force from April 1, 1985, and was heralded as a new beginning for Chinese patents. Patent applications then grew by over 20% each year from 1984 to 1992, and this then led to a rapid increase in Chinese patent applications. However, the loopholes of the current system began to surface. The law was then amended three times which led to the formation of the current version in 2008.
In contrast to countries in Europe and America, China has three types of the patent, which are the invention patent, utility model patent and design patent.
1. Invention patent
The protection of an invention patent is 20 years from the date of filing, and it is necessary to have a substantive examination. A similarity exists here with other countries, where the requirements of having an invention patent are obviousness, novelty and practicability. The invention patent protects the technical solution for products, method or any improvement of those above.
The invention patent has the most stable patent rights among the three types of patents in China and also the most extended protection period.
2. Utility model
The protection for a utility model patents is ten years from the filing date, which mainly protects the technical solution of the structure and the construction of a product. The examination on a utility model is rather loosely defined in comparison to an invention patent because it does not have to accept any substantive examination. After the preliminary check of formalities, the patent certificate will then be issued.
However, this does not mean that you will receive stable patent rights because the examination is actually post-processing. The patentee or any interested party may request an evaluation report of the utility model to confirm/challenge the patent rights.
3. Design patent
The protection for a design patent is ten years from the date of filing. This mainly protects the shape of the product. A similarity exists with the utility model; the examiner doesn’t search for the design patent but checks the formalities and the correspondence relationship of each drawing. Also, after it is granted, any interested party or patentee can request an evaluation report from CNIPA to confirm or challenge the rights.