We reported in 2020 on PRC’s fourth amendment to the Patent Law (link to our blog post here). More than three years later, the PRC State Council has finally approved and promulgated the amended Patent Implementation Regulations (“Regulations”) to align various patent practices with the changes made under the Patent Law. The amended Regulations came into effect on 20 January 2024.

An important change brought about by the Regulations that may affect every PRC patent practitioner is the abandonment of the 15-day postal rule. Back in the era of mostly paper filing, notices from the patent office were deemed to be received 15 days after the date that the document was sent out, and the deadline for responding to the notice would only start to run after this 15-day period. Nowadays, electronic filing has become the norm and the 15-day postal rule is removed in respect of any documents that are electronically transmitted by the patent office. To most patent practitioners and applicants, the practical effect is that the deadline for responding to the patent office is “shortened” by 15 days.

Another area that sees substantial changes is the design system. While the 2020 amendment of the Patent Law allowed for partial design in principle, the amended Regulations provide more detailed requirements for the filing of applications for partial designs. The Regulations also include a new chapter 12 for implementing the Hague System for the International Registration of Industrial Designs (please see our previous blog post here). The Regulations further allow a design application to claim priority from a previously filed PRC invention patent or utility model application, thus protecting the aesthetic aspects of a product disclosed in the figures of the invention patent or utility model specification.

Other new provisions introduced by the Regulations include those relating to patent term extension (due to unreasonable delay by the patent office during prosecution, or for new drugs that are granted marketing approval in China), open licenses, restoration / correction of priority claim, enhanced statutory rewards for employee inventions, and the examination criteria for utility model and design applications.

Together with the amended Regulations, the 2023 version of the Patent Examination Guidelines was also published. This therefore concludes this fourth round of amendment to the PRC Patent Law. Please stay tuned to this blog for further news on PRC intellectual property issues.