Foreigners can now, under strict conditions, take the patent bar examination. A brief summary of the exam follows. The exam, which is held once a year, takes place over a day and half with three parts: Patent legal knowledge, Related legal knowledge, and Patent agency practice (e.g., drafting claims). However, unlike the U.S. patent bar examination, the Chinese patent bar examination also covers enforcement of patent rights as well as other areas of law. The next exam will be held on November 14 – 15, 2020.
The exam is based on the Patent Attorney Qualification Examination Syllabus (2020年专利代理师资格考试大纲), a 50-page document listing topics for the exam. Part I Patent Legal Knowledge covers the history of the patent system as well as legal and procedural rules. Specifically,
- Patent Basics (e.g., Who has the right to apply for a patent and the ownership of the patent right; Patent Agency System);
- Substantive Conditions for Granting Patent Rights (e.g., Patent Subject Matter, Patentability, etc.);
- Patent Application Documents (e.g., specification requirements, etc.);
- Patent Application and Prosecution Procedures;
- Reexamination/Invalidation of Patents;
- Patent Enforcement (e.g., rights of the patentee, patent infringement, compulsory licensing, etc.);
- Patent Cooperation Treaty and patent-related International Treaties;
- Patent Literature and Classification
Part II Related Legal Knowledge covers other laws, both intellectual property-related and basic laws. Specifically,
- Relevant Basic Laws and Regulations (e.g., Civil Law, Contract Law, Civil Procedure, etc.);
- Relevant Intellectual Property Laws and Regulations (e.g., Copyright Law, Trademark Law, etc.);
- Relevant International Treaties (Paris Convention, The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), and laws of foreign countries such as the U.S., etc.);
Part III Patent Agency Practice covers writing specifications and claims. Specifically,
- Drafting of Patent Application Documents (specification and claims);
- Other Patent Agency Practices
The exam takes place over a day and a half with 2.5 hours allocated to Part I patent legal knowledge, 2 hours to Part II related legal knowledge and 4 hours for Part III Patent Agency Practice. The first two Parts are multiple choice while the third Part is drafting. The examination is closed book and computerized. The Exam questions are in simplified Chinese characters but candidates from Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Macau Special Administrative Region, and Taiwan can use traditional Chinese characters to answer the questions if the prefer.
- The Chinese patent bar exam is graded on a curve – that is, Pass/Fail is determined “based on the actual needs of [country’s] patent work and the difficulty of the examination questions of the year,” perhaps ensuring that China doesn’t become overpopulated with patent attorneys. However, the pass score has been very stable since 2009 with a combined score for Parts I and II of 150 (decreasing from 180 in 2006) and 90 (increasing from 85 in 2006) for Part III needed for passing.
As my friend Lei (Rickey) Tan says, “it was really a grueling experience! Unforgettable!… This journey is really tough.” More information on the exam and registration procedure can be found here (Chinese only).