On January 27, 2015 SIPO released a revised draft of its Patent Administrative Enforcement rules for public comment. The released draft includes a line by line comparison with the last version (Feb. 1, 2011) as well as an explanation of the changes. The due date for comments is March 15, 2015. The purpose of these amendments is to address such matters as reducing the time frame for patent administrative litigation, improving procedures, and improving enforcement in the on-line environment.
Separately SIPO Commissioner Shen revealed at a SIPO Party Meeting on January 23, that in addition to rapidly increasing patent filings (2.361 million in total in 2014), , the total number of patent administration enforcement cases was 24,479, increasing 50.9% from the prior year. This is a nearly 16 fold increase since 2009. Past efforts like these have typically brought surges in “patent passing off” cases, which is most like false marking. SIPO’s administrative enforcement in recent years has also shown irregular month to month cycles that are likely tied to enforcement campaigns (see my chart below).
I estimate that this high level of enforcement activity is likely due to a combination of four factors, including an NPC Standing Committee to supervise administrative patent enforcement in eight provinces and regions that was launched in 2014. a campaign from last year to address counterfeit and substandard products (打击侵犯知识产权和制售假冒伪劣商品), a renewed commitment to amend the patent law, which Commissioner Shen noted in his talk at the meeting to local IP Offices on January 19, and SIPO’s own desire to ensure that its administrative enforcement system is not sidelined by recent efforts to improve judicial adjudication of high technology IP cases, including the establishment o f the specialized IP courts. Indeed, the explanation advises that this draft reflects the commitments to improving rule of law in China.
The different roles of China’s administrative and judicial systems in patent enforcement has been previously discussed by me in this blog, I quoted David Kappos at that time as recommending that “China should consider concrete ways of promoting and improving the civil judicial enforcement system by providing more resources, promoting the independence of the judiciary, providing for more training of judges, particularly on technical patent matters, and in general, improvements in the civil legal environment” Many of these efforts are now underway in the judicial system. Maybe the administrative system is trying to catch up?
Photo below, from Beijing airport – a foreign company advertising its patented product in 2015.
Updated January 17, 2016.