The State Intellectual Property Office of China just published a set of proposed amendments to its Patent Examination Guideline for the public's comments, covering the following important aspects:
- If a claim recites both features about a business method and technical features, the examiner shall not reject the claim on the grounds that the claim relates to "rules and methods for mental activities" under Article 25 of the PRC Patent Law.
- For inventions involving computer programs, it is allowable for a claim to recite both hardware features and features defined as "(computer) programs", and such programs features shall not be treated as "functional features".
- Examiners should consider supplemental data submitted during examination if the technical effect to be proven by the data can be derived by persons in the art from disclosures of the subject application under examination.
- During an invalidation action, the patent owner can add to a claim one or more features from other claims as granted. If the patent owner does such an addition, the invalidity challenger should be given a chance to add new grounds of invalidation toward the addition, but the challenger cannot cite new evidence to support the added grounds and can only rely on evidence previously submitted.
- For a pending invention patent application, the public can inspect and copy office actions and search reports made by the examiner during the substantive examination.
- When the People's Court issues a property preservation order to the Patent Office to suspend and preserve the status of a patent or a pending application, the Patent Office should follow the time limit set by the court's order.