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SIPO Lobbying for Adoption of Revised Patent Law

As the draft of the revised Patent Law has been sent to the State Council for approval, the State Intellectual Property Office is lobbying for the legislation to be approved this year, said SIPO Commissioner Shen Changyu.

The amended draft addresses thorny issues that have long concerned industry insiders such as difficulties in collecting evidence, low compensation awards and the high cost of maintaining rights, Shen said at an annual conference in Beijing last week for heads of local IP offices from across the country.

The revision gives more power to administrative enforcement officials, enabling them to use various means to collect evidence in infringement investigations.

In contrast to the current mediation practice in a patent dispute, they are also empowered to decide on compensation for damages, according to the amendments.

The draft also stipulates that administrative decisions about the validity of a patent should take effect when it is issued rather than pending court verdicts.

Additions to the law include punitive compensation in cases of repeated or group infringements of up to three times the losses or statutory fine.

The Patent Law was amended in 1992, 2000 and 2008 after it came to effect in 1985.

The previous amendments all showed the attitude of policymakers and legislators towards enhanced protection, said Feng Xiaoqing, vice-chairman of the China Intellectual Property Law Association.

"The law has a logic relationship in the legal system itself," Feng said. "Its amendments are a huge project that require comprehensive consideration of a range of legal documents, related regulations and rules, and judicial interpretations."

Given the internalization of IP laws, legislators also need to factor in the latest legislation in advanced countries and progress in the international patent system, he said.

The fourth amendment to the law now under discussion, which SIPO began to draft in 2012, "basically reflects such a way of thinking", he added.

Administrative enforcement complementary to judicial protection is a feature in China's IP protection, he noted.

The expansion of administrative power will provide rights owners with diverse options for maintaining their interests, Jiang Zhipei, former chief IP judge at the Supreme Court, wrote in an online article.

Yet opponents expressed concern over expansion of administrative power in the latest revision and want to increase court efficiency as a fundamental solution.

Invention patent applications rose 12.5 percent to 928,000, retaining China's status as the world No 1 for the fourth year in a row.

And SIPO dealt with 26,000 international applications filed through the Patent Cooperation Treaty in 2014, up 14.2 percent compared with 2013.

Of them, the PCT filings for use in the United States, Europe and Japan increased by 32.6 percent, Commissioner Shen noted at the meeting.

Considering a drop in filings in the first half of last year, partially due to the slowing growth in the economy and the change in government incentives away from filings to patents, Shen said the yearly growth is "better than expected".

A report from the World Intellectual Property Organization shows that 92 percent of global utility models and more than a half of the world's total industrial designs came from China.

Shen said that considering the enormous population of China, "the num is not big, but far less than being enough".

(Source: China Daily)