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Advice: Delay Filing Chinese Design Patents Until June 1, 2021

China’s newly amended Patent Law goes into effect on June 1, 2021, less than three months away. One of the many significant changes in the Law includes a 50% increase in design patent term from 10 to 15 years.  However, no transitional measures have been released yet and it is likely the increased term will only apply to design applications filed on or after June 1, 2021 and not those filed before June 1 but still pending on June 1, 2021. Also, design patents granted before June 1, 2021 will presumably not have their patent terms increased retroactively.

Article 42 will read,

The term of invention patent right is 20 years, the term of utility model patent right and design patent right is 10 years, and the term of design patent right is 15 years, all counted from the date of filing.

The increase in the design patent term enables China to sign on to the Hague System for the International Registration of Industrial Designs, which requires a 15-year term for designs. There are already 74 contracting parties to the Hague System including the U.S. and European Union. 

In addition, Article 2 of the Patent Law will be amended to cover partial designs. This may be particularly useful for those applicants trying to patent graphical user interfaces (GUIs) since only the display in a powered-on state can be protected instead of the display and related hardware. 

Article 2: Appearance design refers to a new design that is aesthetically pleasing and suitable for industrial applications based on the overall or partial shape, pattern, or combination of the product , and the combination of color, shape, and pattern.

Broken lines and shading, as in U.S. practice, may also be potentially allowed started June 1.

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Author:
Director of China Intellectual Property Practice

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