Date: 24 February 2021
As of 27 January 2021, the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) announced that it will repeal government financial subsidies to support patent filing activity as of June 2021. Likewise, financial subsidies for patents already granted are to be reduced and removed by 2025.
More information is available here: CNIPA
The previous practice of financial incentives for patent applications contributed to extraordinary increases in the numbers of patent applications in China in recent years. While 181,000 applications were filed at the European Patent Office in 2019, 1,243,568 were filed at the Chinese Patent Office. While this is about 150,000 fewer patent applications filed in 2019 than in 2018, it is still almost seven times the number of applications filed in 2019 at the European Patent Office.
For more information: Chinese filing statistics
The announcement of 27 January 2021 states that its main aim is to avoid patent applications that do not serve to protect innovations but were filed for other reasons. According to the notice, such patent applications harm the public interest by hindering genuine business innovation, wasting public resources and discouraging further improvements to China's patent system.
The flood of Chinese patent applications also poses major challenges for companies outside China. They, too, must deal with the enormous volume of Chinese patent publications - be it in their own examination procedures, when entering the Chinese market, or simply in monitoring the patent classes relevant to the respective company.
We therefore welcome the abolition of financial incentives for patent applications in China and are hopeful for the associated consolidation of Chinese filing activity.
In the course of our extensive patent filing practice in China, we have been able to observe considerable improvements in the Chinese patent system in recent years. If the latest announcements of the Chinese Patent Office are confirmed by the Chinese government, we expect a further increase in quality. The measures adopted also represent a further step towards equal opportunities for foreign companies on the Chinese market. Chinese patent applications should thus become even more attractive for European applicants.
If you are interested in protecting your intellectual property in China, we are your partner. Through close contact with our local experts in our offices in Beijing and Shenzhen, we are able to incorporate the Chinese perspective particularly efficiently into the advice we give to our clients.