The 4th Revision of the Patent Law of China Approved & Takes Effect 1 June 2021 


On 17 October 2020, the fourth revision of the Patent Law of China was approved by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress. With the last revision of the law tracing back to 12 years ago and after numerous deliberations over the years, the new Patent Law will come into force on 1 June 2021.
This revision of the Patent Law further strengthens the protection for the legal rights and interests of patent holders by measures including heavier penalties on patent infringement and patent passing off; introducing the good faith principle; newly providing for the compensation on patent term for unreasonable delay in granting a patent for invention; setting forth a drug patent linkage system, mainly involving an early resolution mechanism for drug patent disputes; and bettering the rules for burden of proof and pre-litigation injunction.
The revised Patent Law also fosters the implementation and use of patents, such as by bringing in the practice of open patent licensing; expressly stating that enterprises may dispose of their rights to apply for patent and patent right of service inventions; and encouraging the employers to allow their employee inventors to have a reasonable share of the benefit from the innovation through such incentives as equities, options and dividend.
In refining the patent granting system, the new Patent Law, among others, fortifies design protection by recognising partial designs and domestic priority for design applications, and extending the term for design patent protection to fifteen years from ten years under the current Patent Law. It also adds that where an infringement relates to a patent for utility model or design, the accused infringer, just as the patentee and the interested party, may take the initiative to furnish a patent evaluation report to facilitate the determination or settlement of disputes.