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China to Revoke Patent Agencies’ Licenses for Filing Abnormal Patent Applications

On November 10, 2021, the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) released the Notice of the CNIPA on Further Severely Cracking Down on Abnormal Patent Application Agency Acts (国家知识产权局关于进一步严厉打击非正常专利申请代理行为的通知).  CNIPA will halt  new business intake or even revoke licenses of patent agencies that file relatively large amounts of abnormal (also translated as irregular) patent applications. Previously, Chinese patent agencies have been warned and fined such as a Shenzhen firm that was recently fined 50,000 RMB for filing a total of 1,264 irregular applications and a Hangzhou firm was recently fined 20,000 RMB for filing a total of 1,192 abnormal patent application.

In the Notice, CNIPA states,

This Office is organizing and conducting the “Blue Sky” campaign, and will impose punishments on a group of patent agencies that file relatively large amounts of abnormal patent applications and are suspected of fabricating patents by preventing them from taking on new business or even revoking their practicing licenses. At present, the punishment has entered the stage of notification before punishment. All regions shall, according to the notification information on abnormal patent application agency acts, place cases under the major supervision of this Bureau, and agencies that repeatedly file abnormal patent applications on file as soon as possible for investigation and punishment shall be severely punished. If the circumstances are serious, it may request this Office to stop accepting its relevant agency business or revoke its patent agency qualification.

CNIPA will also crack down on the authorized practice of law by unlicensed agencies:

Our bureau will continue to strengthen big data screening and monitoring, collect evidence of unlicensed entities engaged in abnormal patent applications, and timely transfer them to the relevant provincial (autonomous region, municipality) intellectual property bureaus for investigation. All localities should intensify their crackdowns, and strictly and quickly investigate and deal with unauthorized patent agency business activities, and their engaging in irregular patent applications should be regarded as serious circumstances and be severely punished.

CNIPA will further strengthen the supervision of patent agencies that excessively high per capita patent filings. CNIPA has informed local bureaus of “institutions whose per capita agency volume is obviously too high” to be inspected and punished, if needed.

Our office will continue to pay attention to agencies that have obviously excessively high per capita agency volume and abnormal growth in agency volume, and transfer them to relevant provincial (autonomous region, municipality) intellectual property offices for key supervision in due course.

On March 12, 2021, the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) released the “Measures Regarding the Regulation of Patent Applications” (关于规范申请专利行为的办法).  

Article 2 of the Measures defines the following behaviors as abnormal:

 (1) Simultaneously or successively submitting multiple patent applications that are obviously the same in invention-creation content, or are essentially formed by simple combinations of different invention-creation features or elements;

  (2) The submitted patent application contains fabricated, forged or altered inventions and creations, experimental data or technical effects, or plagiarism, simple replacement, patchwork of existing technology or existing designs, etc.;

  (3) The invention-creation of the submitted patent application is obviously inconsistent with the actual research and development capabilities and resource conditions of the applicant and inventor;

  (4) The invention-creation content of multiple patent applications submitted is mainly generated randomly by computer programs or other technologies;

  (5) The invention-creation of the submitted patent application is an invention deliberately formed for the purpose of circumventing patentability examination, which is obviously inconsistent with technical improvement or design common sense, or has no actual protection value, is inferior, piles up, or unnecessarily limits the scope of protection Creation, or content without any search and review significance;

  (6) In order to evade the supervision measures against irregular patent applications, multiple patent applications that are substantially related to a specific entity, individual or address are scattered, submitted sequentially or in different places;

  (7) Not buying or reselling patent application rights or patent rights for the implementation of patented technologies, designs or other legitimate purposes, or falsely altering inventors or designers;

  (8) Patent agencies, patent agents, or other institutions or individuals, acting as agents, inducing, instigating, helping others, or conspiring with them to implement various types of irregular patent applications;

  (9) Other irregular patent applications and related behaviors that violate the principle of good faith and disrupt the normal order of patent work.

The full text of the Notice is available here (Chinese only).

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Author:
Director of China Intellectual Property Practice

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