Revised Patent Agency Rules Expected to Boost Creativity

Source: China Daily

Regulation is a key step to bringing industry in line with global standards and practices

A revised regulation on China's patent agencies came into force on Friday, giving a boost to creativity and businesses.

The amendments are conducive to administrative reform, mass innovation and entrepreneurship, He Hua, deputy commissioner of the China National Intellectual Property Administration, said at a recent news conference.

They will serve to create a better business environment, promote the healthy growth of the patent service industry and thus help to unlock creativity, he noted.

The revision reflects the administrative reform in laws and regulations, Tao Xinliang, head of the Intellectual Property School at Dalian University of Technology, told China Intellectual Property News, a Beijing-based newspaper.

It's been 28 years since the first version took effect in 1991, and the latest regulation has made improvements in terms of qualifications for practitioners, a code of conduct and services supervision.

With qualification certificates after passing a national examination, individuals can work as registered practitioners at a patent agency, after they serve their internship at a patent agency for at least a year, according to the regulation.

Rather than complicated administrative approval procedures for a practicing certificate, the regulation provides an efficient approach to practitioners' registration. They can file online with the provincial-level patent administration and the filing is required to be made 30 days after their first practice.

"The practice of keeping practitioners' information on record will no doubt bring huge changes to the patent agency industry," Zhang Jiangang, general manager of Sunshine Intellectual Property (Group), told China Intellectual Property News.

The streamlined procedures improve efficiency and bring convenience to practitioners as they don't have to take practicing certificates with them. On the other hand, the online system also facilitates administrators' supervision over the industry, Zhang said.

Zhao Yonghui, an attorney at AdvanceChina IP Law Office, told Beijing-based portal China News that the change helps to screen out unregistered agents and guarantee high-quality agency services.

The previous regulation lacked transparent governance over publicized information on patent agencies, the newspaper quoted Chen Hao, general manager of Zhengzhou Ruixin Intellectual Property Agency, as saying.

Chen, who has been practicing 25 years in the industry, said that due to the shortage of channels for information disclosure concerning patent agencies, it was hard to curb the misleading or false promotion in which some agencies were involved.

The new regulation adds an article, requesting that patent provincial-level administrators release information on patent agencies, which will put the high-quality service providers in the limelight.

A patent agency should be in the organization form of either a partnership or a limited liability company, the regulation says.

Chen recalled that when his company was founded in 2008, the requirements for founding a patent agency were rather complicated.

At that time, a senior patent attorney who had expertise and experience failed to become Ruixin's shareholder, because he was unable to meet the age requirement of being no older than 65, Chen said.

"For our job, an attorney who is older yet rich in practicing experience and professional expertise is more suitable for the shareholder position than the young," Chen said.

The revision to the regulation has loosened the grip on founding agencies and becoming shareholders or partners.

Patent agents shall follow the clients' own will and the principles of fairness, faithfulness and credibility in charging fees, taking both economic and social benefits into consideration, the regulation says.

It also specifies the code of conduct and legal obligations for patent agents and agencies and calls for improved inspection and supervision over their services.

Yang Wu, head of the All-China Patent Attorneys Association, told China News that the new regulation is a key step toward bringing the domestic industry in line with international standards and practices, which will help the sector grow healthier and stronger.

Data from the CNIPA show that more than 42,580 people had obtained the qualification as patent agents and nearly 18,670 of them practiced at some 2,200 agencies by the end of 2018.