China's State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) has introduced a new priority examination procedure for certain types of invention patent applications in China. The following types of applications are eligible for the new SIPO fast track:
- Important patent applications for inventions in technical fields relating to energy saving and environmental protection, new generation information technology, biology, high-end equipment manufacturing, new energy, new material, new energy vehicles
- Important patent applications for inventions relating to low-carbon technology and resource-saving technology which are helpful for green development
- Applications for the same invention first filed in China and then in other countries or regions
- Other patent applications which materially affect national or public interests and therefore require prioritised examination
SIPO stipulates strict procedural guidelines for fast-track applications including pre-authorisationby a local SIPO branch of the relevant province, autonomous region or municipality. Applicants are additionally required to supply search and examination reports, issued by the patent examination authority of another country or region, such as the UK Intellectual Property Office or the European Patent Office. Alternatively, a search report issued by a "recognised and competent entity" may be submitted, although this terminology has not been defined. A request for prioritised examination can then be made to SIPO in electronic form. Of course, the granting of prioritised examination is entirely discretionary and the number of examinations will be determined by SIPO's capacity.
Accelerated patent examination has previously been available in the UK and Europe and its adoption in China demonstrates progress for intellectual property litigation in the region. China's new priority examination procedures took effect from 1 August 2012.