As first reported by IPRlearn, the Shanghai Municipal Administration of Market Supervision on February 5, 2021 has fined Shanghai Shangxiang Patent Agency Co., Ltd. (上海尚象专利代理有限公司) 30,000 RMB for filing 26 ‘irregular’ design patent applications.
In December 2019, the Shangxiang agreed to represent an unnamed company to apply for 26 watch design patents on their behalf. On July 10, 2020, the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) sent a “Notice of Confirmation of Irregular Patent Application,” confirming that the above-mentioned 26 design patents were irregular patent applications. The parties then applied to the CNIPA to withdraw the aforementioned patent applications on July 14, 2020.
On February 1, 2021, the Administration served the Notice on Administrative Punishment (No. (2020)322020000510) on the party concerned, informing it of the facts, reasons, basis and contents of the administrative punishment to be imposed, and informing them of the parties’ right to make statements and defend themselves within 3 working days as of the date of receipt of the notice. The party concerned did not reply or make a defense to the Administration within 3 working days after receiving the aforesaid Notification on Administrative Punishment.
The patent applications were determined to be irregular because “the same entity or individual summited multiple patent applications with different materials, components, proportions, parts, etc. that are simple replacements or patched together.”
Shangxiang got off relatively lucky as the maximum fine is 100,000 RMB and license suspension and/or revocation.
This fine shows China’s continuing quest for quality over quantity in patents. Another measure taken has been the elimination of patent subsidies. Accordingly, we may see a decline in absolute number of patent applications filed as fewer ‘abnormal’ patent applications are filed.