Types of Patent in China

PatentAlthough rudimentary to some, we are asked about the different types of patent there are in China so often at the Helpdesk that it’s worthy of explanation again here.

So here is a concise rundown of the three types of patent available in China…


Invention patents

As in Europe, this type of patent is granted for new technical solutions or improvements to a product or a process with practical applicability.

Application time: Normally granted within 3-5 years

Application fee: 900 RMB + 2500 RMB Examination fee

Protection duration: 20 years (subject to annuity payments)

Utility models

Granted for a new technical solution or improvement with a lower degree of ‘inventiveness’ than Invention patents, i.e. products with a new shape or structural physical features.

Utility Models are also sometimes called ‘Utility Patents’ or ‘Petty Patents’ in other countries. The following EU countries also have utility models or the equivalent: Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Slovakia, and Spain.

Application time: Normally granted within 1 year

Application fee: 900 RMB

Protection duration: 10 years (subject to annuity payments)

Design patents

Granted for innovations in the external features of a product, encompassing any of the following features: Shape; Pattern; Shape and pattern; Shape and colour; Shape, pattern and colour. Innovations must also be “fit for industrial application” (i.e. specifically usable by industry, producible in batches, etc.).

Application time: Normally granted within 1 year

Application fee: 900 RMB

Protection duration: 10 years (subject to annuity payments)

General watch-outs

  • If there are two patent applications filed for the same innovation, the party that filed the application first will be granted the rights.
  • Innovations must not be published (i.e. publicly sold, described in a magazine, displayed at a trade fair, etc.) before filing, in order to be eligible for all types of patent registrations. If a patent is granted but it is later proven that it was published prior then it may be invalidated.
  • If you create an invention in China but wish to file a patent application in another country (either having already filed in China or not) you must apply to State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) for a ‘confidentiality examination’ in order to determine any implications for national security and important interest to China.
  • Patent applications must be filed in Chinese language (Mandarin). Accuracy of translation is extremely important thus professional translation is advised.
  • As utility models are normally granted much quicker than Invention Patents and both can be filed simultaneously, it is a common strategy to file for both in China and then drop the Utility Model when the Invention Patent is later granted. However, if the Invention Patent is found to be invalid then the corresponding Utility Model will be invalidated too.

For more information on Patents in China, see the China Helpdesk Guide to Patent Protection in China.

If you have further questions on patents in China, then feel free to ask our IP Business Advisor.

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