Edited by Stefan Luginbuehl and Peter Ganea
Chapter 20: DESIGNS
The Chinese patent system provides for easily and quickly obtainable industrial design protection. Designs are protected under the same Patent Act which also comprises invention patent and utility model protection. A separate Design Act does not exist in China. A design patent will be granted after passing a formality examination. The State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) which is in charge of such examination has accelerated formality examination in recent years, so that it currently takes six months on average until a design patent is granted. The examination period may even be shortened to three months if the application is filed online. China does not provide for protection of unregistered designs as, for instance the European Community does, so that filing a design application forms the only path to industrial design protection in China. The maximum protection term for a design patent in China is currently ten years, which is shorter than in many other countries, so that the legislature is considering an extension to 15 years in the course of the coming amendment to the Chinese Patent Act. Such amendment would be a prerequisite for China to become a member of the Hague system. Twenty eight years after the entry into force of the Patent Act, China leads the world in terms of design applications.
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