A new patent office partnership between the UK and China may make life easier for UK SMEs wishing to transfer their innovations to China.
On July 1 2014 the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and China’s State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) launched a new pilot Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) programme to allow those who have been granted a patent at one office to request fast-track processing of an equivalent application at the other.
This is not a new international development: many countries, including Austria, Denmark, and Finland in the EU, have already established such agreements. They allow for a reduction in processing time as the corresponding patent office effectively picks up on the examination work that has been done in the home country, and a reduction in cost for both the business applying and the respective country offices.
What does this offer for EU SMEs?
Apart from savings on fees and the greatly increased likelihood that the application will be accepted, the new option should allow for a considerable reduction in processing time. Although there is no comprehensive information available for China, in some countries PPHs have been seen to reduce average application to grant periods by more than 50%. The non-PPH application and registration procedure in China would normally take between 3-5 years for an invention patent and up to 1 year for design and utility model patents.
Watch this space as we keep you up-to-date on China patent developments.
For more information on patents in China, including fees and application instruction, see the Helpdesk’s Guide to Patent Protection in China. For further information on the UK-China PPH and guidelines for patent applicants, see the UKIPO website.