Recently, the PRC National Development and Reform Commission and the PRC Ministry of Finance have jointly issued the Circular on Reducing Certain Official Fees Including the Handling Fees for Building Transfer and the Official Fees for Trademark Applications (“Circular”). The Circular took effect on 1 September 2015.  

1. According to the Circular, the following IP fees will be reduced:

Official fees for trademark application

The PRC State Trademark Office (“STO”) is the authority in charge of trademark applications in the PRC. I.e., if anyone wants to apply for trademark registration in the PRC, he shall file an application with the STO. According to PRC law, the trademark will only be protected after registration with the STO.

Currently, the STO charges an official fee of RMB 800 (approximately EUR 110) per 10 goods in each class for each trademark. If the designated goods in one class exceed 10 pieces, the STO additionally charges RMB 80 (approximately EUR 11) for each additional good. 

From 15 October 2015, the above official fees will be significantly reduced. The STO will only charge an official fee of RMB 600 (approximately EUR 83) per 10 goods in each class for each trademark. If the designated goods in one class exceed 10 pieces, the STO will additionally charge RMB 60 (approximately EUR 8) for each additional good. 

Official fee for software copyright registration

Although the protection of software copyrights is not subject to any registration procedures according to PRC law, the copyright owner may still voluntarily apply for copyright registration for software with the Copyright Protection Center of China (“CPCC”), which is designated by the PRC National Copyright Administration as authority in charge. According to PRC law, a copyright registration certificate (“Registration Certificate”) issued by the CPCC serves as prima facie evidence for the existence of a copyright. 

From 15 October 2015, for registration of each piece of software copyright, the official fee charged by the CPCC will be reduced from RMB 250 (approximately EUR 35) to RMB 200 (approximately EUR 27). Further, the fee for issuance of the Registration Certificate will also be reduced from RMB 50 (approximately EUR 7) to RMB 10 (approximately EUR 1.3). 

Annuities of new plant varieties 

In order to seek legal protection for new plant varieties in the PRC, the owner can apply for registration of the new plant variety with the competent authorities in charge of agriculture and forestry. The term of validity is 20 years for vines, forest trees, fruit trees and ornamental plants and 15 years for other plants, which is calculated from the date of grant of the new plant variety rights. The owner shall pay annuities to the competent authorities each year during the above term of validity. The Circular stipulates that the annuities of new plant varieties shall be reduced as follows from 15 October 2015: 

Click here to view table.

2. Further, the Circular extends the term for reduction of patent annuities. 

Like trademarks and new plant varieties, the patent owner can apply for registration of a patent with the PRC State Intellectual Property Office (“SIPO”) in order to seek protection of the patent right in the PRC. The term of validity is 20 years for invention patents and 10 years for utility models and design patents, which is calculated from the date of grant of the patent right. The patent owner shall pay annuities to the SIPO each year during the above term of validity. 

According to the PRC Measures for the Reduction or Postponement of Patent Annuities, a patent registrant may apply for reducing the patent annuities within the first 3 years starting from the year in which the patent right is granted. According to the Circular, as of 1 January 2016, the term for reduction of patent annuities can be extended from the first 3 years to the first 6 years. 

Overall, the promulgation of the Circular indicates that the Chinese government intends to encourage more IP owners to register and maintain their IP rights in China by reduction of relevant official fees. 

The registration of IP rights in China enables the IP owners to take actions against counterfeiting and to protect their intangible assets more efficiently. Further, as indicated above, such registration is not costly. Therefore, we strongly suggest foreign companies to register IP rights (especially trademarks and patents) when doing business in China.