China’s first Internet Court

On 18 August, China has officially launched its first “Internet Court” in Hangzhou, which city is known as the Chinese e-commerce capital, and is home to Internet giants such as Alibaba and NetEase. The name “Internet Court” has a two-fold meaning: First, this court specializes in resolving Internet-related cases including disputes regarding contacts of online shopping, services and microfinance loans, Internet copyright disputes and domain name disputes etc. Second, all court proceedings in this court can be conducted via an Internet platform. Located in a normal court building in Hangzhou shared with another local court, the Internet Court is nevertheless ready to accept cases filed electronically from all over the country, to hold online mediations, to examine electronically submitted evidence, to hold oral hearings with litigants via video conference, to deliver judgements and to accept applications for enforcement orders, all via Internet. Continue reading “China’s first Internet Court”

Revised Patent Examination Guidelines in China welcome more patents on business models

business-model-innovation

Last October, the State Intellectual Property Office of China (SIPO) released draft revisions to its Guidelines for Patent Examination for public consultation (see my earlier post). This month, SIPO published the final text of the revised Guidelines, which will enter into force on 1 April 2017. In comparison to the draft, the final version remains substantially unchanged. This may be a sign of support from the stakeholders. In fact, the proposed revisions received a quite good press immediately after their release, even when it comes to the part of revisions regarding patents on business models, which have been and probably are still one of the most controversial aspects of the IP system in many other countries such as the U.S.

As the SIPO explicitly stated, the planned revisions are aimed to strengthen the IP protection for innovation in emerging fields such as Internet, e-commerce, big data and to improve the IP protection system for business models. This emphasis reflects the state of innovation in China, where indigenous businesses have been so far quite successful in developing innovative services and products in these emerging fields. While it can be debated whether an expansion of patent protection into the arena of business models would indeed do more good than harm to the innovation, the objective of the Chinese policymakers is clear: to promote business model innovation through more IP protection.

While it remains to be seen in long term whether the above policy objective can be achieved, it is for individual inventors and businesses more interesting what immediate changes in practice will come out of the planned revisions. So, let’s first take a look at the revision itself. Continue reading “Revised Patent Examination Guidelines in China welcome more patents on business models”

China’s Patent Boom

This post was originally published on The IPKat on 10 January 2017.

World Intellectual Property Organization recently published its annual World Intellectual Property Indicators report. This report states that, amid rising worldwide demand for intellectual property rights, a new record was set. Namely, with around 1.1 million new patent applications in 2015, the State Intellectual Property Office of China (SIPO) became the first patent office to receive more than a million applications in a single year. This was almost as many applications as the next three offices in the ranking combined (the patent offices of the U.S., Japan and South Korea). Some people are astonished and also confused about China’s patent boom in recent years: What drives such a strong growth in patent applications? How good is the quality of the massive applications? What impacts does the boom have on patent protection in China? This article briefly discusses some aspects of these questions. Continue reading “China’s Patent Boom”

A recent case in China concerning the Patent Office’s burden to prove common knowledge in patent examination

common-knowledge

To determine whether an invention involves an inventive step, the Chinese Patent Office’s Guidelines for Patent Examination (the “Guidelines”) require the patent examiner, inter alia, to make a judgment, starting from the closest prior art and the technical problem actually solved by the invention, as to whether or not the claimed technical solution is obvious to a person skilled in the art in the light of relevant reference documents and common knowledge. As the Guidelines do not give a strict definition of “common knowledge” and, in practice, the examiner is not required to prove common knowledge when he/she first introduces it, what should be qualified as common knowledge in a particular case often becomes a subject of dispute.

Recently, the Beijing IP Court handed down a decision (No. 3495 [2015]) resolving such a dispute. In its decision, the Court reaffirmed the Patent Reexamination Board (PRB)’s burden to state reasons or provide corresponding evidence for proof, if the interested party has objections to the common knowledge introduced by it. The Court further clarified the relationship between the 3GPP (a telecommunications industry collaboration that organizes several important standards from GSM through UMTS and LTE to 5G) standards documents and common knowledge, considering the increasing frequency of these documents being cited as prior art in telecommunications area. Continue reading “A recent case in China concerning the Patent Office’s burden to prove common knowledge in patent examination”