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Patent Law reform set in motion

China Daily

China's Patent Law will see its third round of changes as the country seeks to iron out problems in the legislation and patent system a move that is being called "imperative," and timely.

The amendment also aims to meet the challenges from new developments after it joined the World Trade Organization (WTO), according to Tian Lipu, commissioner of the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO).

A report from SIPO's laws and regulations department said the amendment should be a major one.

Tian said research on the amendment has begun early this year, and the National People's Congress will announce the revised sections next year.

"I hope the amendment can be completed by 2008," he said in an interview with China Daily.

Changes in the past four years have brought about many new problems to the Patent Law and even the nation's patent system, Tian said.

"We have to find urgent solutions to these problems," he said.

The amendments are needed, the department said, to boost enthusiasm in innovation, as well as to make it more convenient and accessible for the public to apply, get and use patents.

The revisions are also expected to better balance the interests of patent holders and the public, and to safeguard national interest and economic security.

The sections that are likely to be revised will include how to simplify patent application and examination procedures, whether to adopt international standards in granting patents, and how to improve patent protection and infringement judgment standards.

SIPO also suggested adding some rules in the Patent Law to protect China's biological and genetic resources.

A possible step is to require patent applicants using biological and genetic resources in their invention to disclose the origins of their resources.

Moreover, the office will propose establishing a specific court to handle patent or intellectual property right (IPR) lawsuits.

With the number of IPR-related lawsuits rising rapidly in the country, many experts have been calling for the establishment of a specialized IPR court in recent years.

SIPO said it believes it is good timing to settle this issue through another round of amendments.

He said the law's amendment will be an important part of the national IPR strategy which is being drafted by Tian's office.

Work on such a strategy was begun earlier this year, and Tian said he hoped the strategy can be completed in the latter half of next year.

Drafting the strategy is "a pressing task," he said.

The revision will help tackle the challenges arising from changes in international rules on IPR, foster a group of domestic enterprises with their own IPRs, and reduce IPR disputes with foreign countries.

According to Tian, the strategy will cover all aspects of IPR, including patent, trademarks and copyrights.

Among the strategy goals are, by 2020, to establish a sound IPR laws and regulations system, enhance enterprises' ability to innovate, construct a national IPR information search and analysis platform, strengthen foreign co-operation, and train a batch of high quality IPR professionals.

China's Patent Law was promulgated in 1985. It was amended in 1992 and 2000.

According to Tian, amendments to the Patent Law in China are not as frequent as those in developed countries such as the United States and Japan.

Fast development in technologies forces developed nations to frequently revise some of the chapters in their patent laws to meet the demand.

The United States, for example, has seen changes in its patent law every year, according to Zoe Wang, patent attorney for US-based Perkins Coie LLP.

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