On 7 February 2013, the Report of the Advisory Committee on Review of the Patent System in Hong Kong was published. The report reviews the comments from the public in response to a consultation paper issued in October 2011 and makes recommendations regarding the future development of HK's patent system.
HK currently issues two types of patents, standard patent and short-term patent. The standard patent offers protection for a maximum of 20 years under a re-registration system, registering a patent granted by one of the three designated patent offices - the State Intellectual Property Office of China (SIPO), the UK Patent Office, and the European Patent Office (for European patents designating the UK). The short-term patent is valid for a maximum of eight years, offering protection for products with a shorter commercial life cycle.
Aimed at upgrading HK’s patent system to meet present-day circumstances and facilitate its development into an innovation and technology hub, the advisory committee proposes the following key strategic moves:
- introducing an original grant patent (OGP) system in the long run, with substantive examination outsourced to other patent offices during the transitional stage, taking into account the time it takes to build indigenous substantive examination capacity;
- continuing the re-registration system, as a cost-effective alternative to the OGP system;
- retaining the short-term patent with refinements, such as requiring substantive examination before commencement of infringement proceedings;
- establishing full-fledged regulation on patent agency services as an ultimate goal, to be achieved with transitional measures in stages.
Subject to the government’s decision on the directions forward, the advisory committee will proceed with the next phase of the review to further explore the detailed implementation issues.