The State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) of the People’s Republic of China has introduced new rules to streamline patent applications and to reduce the backlog of patent filings currently sitting with SIPO examiners. The regulations were introduced in response to the Central Government’s call for an improved business environment, streamlined procedures for administrative approval and the booming market.

The new regulations – the Administrative Measures for Priority Examination of Patent Applications – were announced on 28 July 2017 and came into effect on 1 August. They seek to resolve the backlog and to speed up patent filings by prioritising the way in which patent applications are processed.

SIPO issued similar regulations five years ago that applied only to invention patent filings; however, the new regulation will expand coverage to applications for the other two types of patents, utility models and industrial designs, said Song Jianhua, director-general of SIPO's law and treaty department at a news conference announcing the new regulations in July. The updated version is also applicable to requests for patent re-examination and invalidation.

Other amendments include streamlined procedures and adding more fields eligible for the regulation, such as the internet, big data and cloud computing, Song added.

Ownership of patents among Chinese nationals is also increasing as the country continues to improve the atmosphere in favour of patent owners, explains Gordon Chan, Novagraaf's commercial director for Greater China. According to SIPO, China has ranked No 1 in invention patent filings worldwide for six consecutive years. Its data shows the office received 565,000 patent applications in the first half of 2017, and approximately 209,000 invention patents were granted during the same period, including roughly 160,000 to Chinese filers. This brings the country's total invention patent inventory beyond 1.22 million.