Without notice, the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) appears to have ceased publishing data on the number of patent applications filed monthly or annually. CNIPA used to publish monthly and annual data on the number of invention patent applications, utility model applications and design patent applications filed. However, the last application filing data released was for November 2020, in which Chinese invention patent application filings jumped almost 33% month-on-month.
No announcement or reason has been released yet regarding the publishing stop but it may be related to the high number of irregular applications being filed. For example, it was reported that 400,000 Chinese patent applications may be withdrawn; various agencies across China have been punishing firms that file irregular applications; and the People’s Court of Shehong City sentenced one applicant to prison in a particularly egregious case regarding 200 fraudulent applications. Accordingly, CNIPA may feel that the patent application filing data is inaccurate until irregular applications have been eliminated.
In order to tackle irregular patent applications and transition from quantity to quality, CNIPA recently released the “Measures Regarding the Regulation of Patent Applications” (关于规范申请专利行为的办法), which defines irregular patent application behavior and how irregular patent applications will be handled.
Article 2 of 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.
Further, CNIPA is cancelling all patent subsidies for all domestic patent application filings by June 30, 2021 and all foreign filings by 2025.
Perhaps once the transition from quantity to quality is further along, CNIPA will restart publishing patent application data. The most recently released Chinese patent data is for January 2021 available here (not including filing data).
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