IP reforms prominent at major political meetings in Beijing
In early March, Beijing hosted the lianghui or “two sessions”, the joint annual meeting of the National People’s Congress (NPC, China’s legislature) and the China People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC, an “upper chamber” of experts and prominent individuals from across Chinese society). IP was discussed by several delegates:
- During the flagship Government Work Report, Premier Li Keqiang mentioned reforms to unify IP agencies working on patents, trade marks and copyright. Premier Li also expressing commitment to clamping down on IP infringements.
- Supreme People’s Court President Zhou Qiang announced that there were 147,000 IP cases concluded by Chinese courts in 2016.
- Several private sector delegates to the CPPCC and official NPC representatives called for stronger sanctions against IP infringers, and for acceleration of amendments to the Patent Law and Copyright Law.
China’s 2017 legislation plan: Copyright Law not prioritised, Patent Law listed
The State Council has released China’s Legislation Plan for 2017. The Plan lists laws and regulations that will be prioritised by the government over the coming year. The Copyright Law was not listed as a priority, despite a draft having been submitted to the State Council Legislative Affairs Office (SCLAO) in 2012, and a number of public figures and stakeholder groups calling for progress. Amendments to the Patent Law and Regulation on Patent Attorneys should be completed by the end of 2017, and work will continue on a new e-Commerce Law. More here (in Chinese).
China increases international patent and trade mark applications
According to statistics released by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) covering 2016, China recorded rapid growth in filings to the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) and Madrid systems for international patent and trade mark applications. Chinese applications to the PCT increased 45% on 2015 levels to over 43,000, with Chinese companies ZTE and Huawei the top two filers. China accounted for 3,200 applications to the Madrid system, an increase of 69% on the previous year. More here (in Chinese) and here (in English).
TRADE MARKS & GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATIONS:
Revised Trademark Examination Guidelines
The China Trademark Office (CTMO) and Trademark Review and Adjudication Board (TRAB) have issued revised Trademark Examination Guidelines. The Guidelines provide detailed interpretations of new provisions introduced in the revised Trademark Law, which came in to force in May 2014. The Guidelines now feature updated information on grounds used to tackle bad-faith applications in China, a common problem faced by international companies. Public comments by TRAB officials suggest an increased emphasis on tackling the bad-faith applications. The Guideline should be viewed alongside a Judicial Interpretation issued by the Supreme People’s Court in January, which came in to force on March 1. More here, here and here (in Chinese).
Trade mark fees slashed by 50%
The Ministry of Finance has announced that from April 1, 2017 official trade mark application fees will be reduced by 50%. This is part of a cross-government effort to reduce administrative fees for a number of official processes. Fees for oppositions, invalidations and other actions to tackle bad-faith filings remain unchanged. In 2016 the China Trademark Office (CTMO) received 3.7 million trade mark applications. More here (in Chinese).
COPYRIGHT & CREATIVE INDUSTRIES:
Music licensing revenues increase, but still low by international standards
According to the statistics released by the Music Copyright Society of China (MCSC), music industry licensing revenue amounted to RMB184 million (approx. £21million) in 2016, an increase of 8.2% from last year. Digital licensing accounted for most of the growth and now represents 37% of the total. Revenues from broadcasting and public performances dipped. Music licensing revenues in China remain low by global standards. Draft amendments to the Chinese Copyright Law may help, with proposals for new statutory rights for sound recordings. In November 2016 the UK-China Economic and Financial Dialogue (EFD) including a commitment that “China will urge copyright owners and broadcasters to timely perform their respective obligations in accordance with the Interim Measures for Payment of Remuneration by Radio and Television Stations for Broadcasting Sound Recordings”. More here (in Chinese) and here (in English).
PATENTS, INDUSTRIAL DESIGNS & INNOVATION:
Updated regulations targeting abnormal patent applications
The State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) has released a revised version of the Regulation on Patent Application Behaviour, to come into effect from April 1, 2017. The revision adds new types of abnormal patent application behavior to the Regulation, for example applications deliberately consisting of elements of prior art, or with falsified lab data or technical effects. The Regulation describes penalties imposed on such behaviors, which include restrictions on access to reductions of official fees. More here (in Chinese).
OTHER ENFORCEMENT & TRADE SECRETS:
Revision to the Anti-Unfair Competition Law
A draft revision to Anti-Unfair Competition Law has been submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC, China’s Legislature). This is the first time that the Law has been revised since it was first implemented in 1993. The draft includes updates to provisions covering trade secrets, company names and passing off-type protections for business identifiers. More here (in Chinese).
If you would like any further information on any of the above matters or to discuss Embassy support for your company in China please contact Su Hong (Su.Hong@fco.gov.uk).