The quality of patent applications in China becomes an issue and attracts more and more attention after the explosion of the filings. The quality issue, including the poor drafting of the application texts, the low creativity of the inventions as well as the abnormal patent applications, such as repeatedly filed patent applications or applications copying prior arts, violates the basic principle of providing incentives for new creations, increases the search costs, and depresses the credibility of the patent system.
As a response to the above issue, SIPO issued the “Opinions on Further Improving Quality of Patent Applications” on Dec. 18, 2013, which contain instructions and requirements for further improving the quality of patent applications in China. This implies that the quality of patent applications will be given more priority than the quantity of patent applications by the governments.
For example, SIPO, in the Opinions, proposes to enhance the examination on abnormal patent applications as well as the supervision over applicants, agencies and patent attorneys, which might be liable to strict punishment for involved abnormal patent applications, if any. Meanwhile, SIPO intends to especially enhance the examination on patent applications for utility models and designs.
According to the Opinions, the funding policies for patent applications shall also be adjusted. The funding is normally offered to medium, small and micro entities, public institutions, research institutions and non-service invention applicants and only applies to granted patent applications. Also, the funding to an applicant of a patent application shall not exceed the totality of the official fees and attorney fees paid for the application. In the case of a patent application for utility model or design, the applicant shall submit a search report prepared by a patent agency or by any other competent organization or an evaluation report for patentability issued by SIPO to apply for the funding.
The Opinions generally urge the relevant departments of SIPO, the local intellectual property offices, the competent departments of the local governments to enhance supervision of patent applications and adjust policies for encouraging patent filings, and urge them together with applicants, patent agencies and patent attorneys to take measures to improve the quality of patent applications. It is expected that detailed measures will be issued later based on the Opinions and that the governments of different levels and SIPO will pay more attention to quality than quantity of patent applications in China.