Thursday, March 25, 2010

Number of patent applications in China

I attended a Symposium on China patent law jointly organized by HK and Guangdong Intellectual Property offices. Interesting things were learnt.

In the recent weeks, there were news about the world wide patent applications and the corresponding figures for patent applications filed to State Intellectual Property Office of PRC ("SIPO"). China is very proud of ever increasing number of cases. However, there were other angles to look at these.

We learnt that there were about 9000 staff in SIPO and we don't know how many of them are patent examiners, but it must be less than 9000. The number of practicing patent attorney in China is about 6000. There were 314,573 invention patent applications (commonly known as utility patent in US) filed in 2009. That means on average, each patent attorney handles about 50 patent application in one year. Furthermore, the boss of one agent firm told the Symposium that for a patent attorney to have a reasonable income, they need to handle about 100 cases per year.

I understand that for those patent attorney who handles 100 cases per year, they must be offering a cut-throat price to their customers. How come? I met some Hong Kong inventors recently in the annual meeting of the Hong Kong inventors group, I was told that they were able to get a patent agent to handle: drafting, drawing, filing and official fee of a utility patent (something like provisional patent in US) in China for about RMB2600, in today's exchange rate, is about USD380.

Now you understand why they need to handle 100 cases per year in order to have a reasonable income. Also, you can understand there is always room for price cutting if you want something from China.

Sorry my customers: I don't cut my price to meet my competitor. You can go somewhere else to get a cheaper service, not from me. Also, I strongly advise you not to file utility patent in China, instead you should file an invention patent application (which is more expansive).

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Google finally left China

Is there a Google search engine in China? Yes or No?

Here is the story. Rumor has it, about 40 years ago. When Henry Kissinger visited China in the ice-breaking diplomacy, Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai was asked whether there were sex workers in China. Premier Zhou said, "Yes," with a pause, and he continued "in Taiwan". And the whole China admired Zhou's wisdom, as he did not admit that there are sex worker in mainland China, in addition, restate their position that Taiwan is part of China.

Now, any one who asks "Is there a Google search engine in China?"

The answer is "Yes", .... "it is in Hong Kong."

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Google-China – Is “leaving China” a Whistle for a “Cyber War”?

Since the announcement of “A New Approach to China” by David Drummond (Senior Vice President, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer of Google Inc) on January 12, 2010, the incident is not merely a commercial one, but is upgraded as a whistle for a “Cyber War” in a fortnight!

Apart from the possible “Cyber War”, it also ignites again the crisis of the diplomatic relationship between China and the USA just within two weeks. It is interesting to note that USA is making this incident more juicy and spicy while China remains silent!

When Hilary Clinton, US Secretary of State made an announcement of the same during her official visit at South Pacific on January 21, 2010, it indicates that the trust on cyber territories between China and the USA is collapsing. Furthermore, it is developed into a “Presidential level” when Barack Obama expressed that he is “troubled” about Google-China is being “cyber attacked” and he “wants answers”!

Even the Office of the United States Trade Representative (?????) is considering to lodge a complaint to World Trade Organization (“WTO”) about China’s intervening the cyber limitation which is violating the international trading ordinances.

One of the major differences in their approaches is, possibly that there is a huge variation on the definition of “cyber privacy concept” between China and the USA.

There are many USA enterprises which are establishing their offices in China, for instance, the garment industry, the luxury brands and the pharmaceutical products. If Google-China is to withdraw from the territory, it may be a “green light” for other corporations as these industries require a high degree of intellectual property rights (“IP rights”).

Comparing with other hot issues like human rights, Tibet, sale of military weapon to Taiwan etc., this particular “cyberattack” seems playing a more essential role for USA enterprises to leave China. As a majority of Chinese are concerned about their “face” issues, the USA could take this incident as a “stepping from the stage”, i.e. to provide a good chance for those corporations to leave China in a graceful manner.

Furthermore, as quoted from an article “In Digital Combat, US finds no easy Deterrent” of New York Times on 25 January 2010,

“ … After that, the trail disappeared into a cloud of angry Chinese government denials, and then an ugly exchange of accusations between Washington and Beijing. That continued Monday, with Chinese assertions that critics were trying to “denigrate China” and that the United States was pursuing “hegemonic domination” in cyberspace. These recent events demonstrate how quickly the nation’s escalating cyberbattles have outpaced the rush to find a deterrent, something equivalent to the cold-war-era strategy of threatening nuclear retaliation. …”

You may see the original article here.

Dramatically, Barack Obama has announced their coming decision of the sale of military weapon to Taiwan in a high profile, which is after the last sale from President George Bush in 2008. At the same time, with the recent state-visit of Taiwan President Ma Ying-Jeou to Central America, the diplomatic relationship among China, Taiwan and the USA will draw more attention from the world-stage.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

“World Expo Court”, a Privilege to World Expo Shanghai

“Welcoming World Expo, Fighting Against Piracy”

The “Shanghai World Expo” is definitely a milestone in the contemporary history of China at the last year of the 21st century’s first decade.

The term “World Expo Court” in the announcement (dated 25 December 2009) from the State Intellectual Property Office (“SIPO”) is absolutely an “eye candy” for me! It seems to be a “privilege” to China as this is tailor-made for the Shanghai World Expo.

This “World Expo Court” will definitely play a special role during the Expo period (i.e. 168 days/half-year running from 1 May to 31 October 2010). What kind of legal cases it will deal with? Does it imply that a great deal of “intellectual property” issues would happen? Who will be plaintiffs and the defendants? All those relevant issues come to my mind, say the logo, trademark, theme-song, the mascot, the tickets (9 different types of tickets) and even the Expo staff, the participants, the audience may occur.

Furthermore, I am also curious about the credibility of the judges, legal clerks, staff, their qualifications, identities, documents, news etc.

There is an old Chinese saying: “There is no silver being buried” which means “someone does something deliberately to tell others that he is innocent”.

Besides being the “world factory”, everyone knows China is a “paradise” for different types of infringement of luxury goods and even food and drinks – sadly to say so.

Can you imagine it is dramatic if a foreign luxury brand finds its fake products in one of the booths at the Expo Shanghai?

If a “World Expo Court” could handle any legal cases or legal disputes incurred during the period, would it be a great chance for them to showcase to the world that there are “Intellectual Property Rights” in China?

It reminds me another famous quote in China in the last decade: “Everything is fake except the liars in China”.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Google is leaving China

I guess everybody knew this already. I just want to pick up (and translate) a few interesting lines that may be non-Chinese reader missed in their daily news.

1. Sending flower illegally.

Once the news was spread around China, there are people in Beijing and Shanghai who sent flower (personally) to Google offices in these two cities. Then certain government departments announced that sending flower to Google offices need pre-approval. That is, a lot of people are sending flower illegally.

2. Someone's comment:

It is not Google leaving China, it is China leaving the world.

3. In twitter, this is the one of the hottest tag: #googlecn.

4. Google removed any filtering in it's search engine in China immediately. All of a sudden, it was reported that search engines of other local Chinese companies also lifted their filtering. Not because they want to support Google. It was reported that they actually use as their backend (without paying a license fee to Google). What a country of IP protection!

Enjoy the freedom while you can, and tomorrow may be you cannot access gmail in China!


Sunday, December 27, 2009

A “Christmas delight/dessert” in China: Re-announcement of Anti-piracy & Pornography Hotlines

Anti-piracy and Pornography Hotlines Re-announced

The above China IP News was announced on 18.12.2009.

Frankly, I find this re-announcement interesting, amusing and juicy while surfing on this website! It is partly because of the timing of this announcement, i.e. the date of the announcement which is just one week before the Christmas time. It is also partly of the rise of the middle-class who adopts a more Westernized style of consumption pattern.

As it is widely known that Chinese are in the rapid rise of power in the first decade of the 21st century, they have a strong knack in aligning with the cosmopolitan lifestyle. It is essential to emphasis the need for the protection of intellectual property rights.

Even there are no public holidays during Christmas time in China, Chinese (especially citizens in major cities) and especially those returning from overseas (the so-called “sea-turtle” in Chinese) are tend to celebrate the Western festivals. They are willing to spend a considerable amount of money on consumption of gourmet and fancy products with their families, friends, colleagues and business partners. They may, intentionally or accidentally, buy pirate products as Christmas gifts.

Hence, the State Intellectual Property Office (“SIPO”) decided to announce the hotlines so as to remind the general public the importance of respecting intellectual property rights while purchasing the products before Christmas and New Year. It also provides the channel for the businesses of selling the legitimate products to report cases of piracy.

Following the long-standing policy on combating pornography, the SIPO would also stress the necessity for reporting pornography through the re-announcement of hotlines.

Incidentally, when there is “re-announcement” for the reporting of illegal products and any pornographic materials, it is an indication of its arising need and the pursuit of authenticity.
So, it is hoped that with the growth of urban middle-class individuals and DINKS (“Dual Income No Kids) in the PRC, they may want to have a taste of traditional Christmas dessert, such as Christmas pudding or gingerbread-man. They would also acknowledge and be concerned of the protection of intellectual property rights.


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Dr Liu Xiaobo - Sentenced for 11 years

Dr Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to 11 years of prison terms on 25th December 2009, because he wrote several articles about human rights in China. Please join this facebook group to show your support, or to have a brief understanding of what is going on.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

SIPO in 30 years

In marking the 30th anniversary of the establishment of State Intellectual Property Office of PRC, an article in their web site draw one angle of the history in the past 30-years.

The article address the quantity increased in the past 30-years with a chart showing what they called a steady and prosperous growth. The first Patent Law was enacted on 1st April 1985 and basically no much activity between 1985 and 1998, after hitting the milestone of 100,000 annual patent applications, a major turning point happens in 2000-2001 and the number climbed up drastically. Last year (2008), that increased to more than 800,000 patent application in one year. According to the official line, this reflects the success of the patent system in China.

As a matter of fact, on the day that patent law was enacted, SIPO received 3455 patent application in one day, according to official record.

Fifteen years later, the cumulative total of patent applications reached 1,000,000 in January 2000. The second 1 million patent applications hit SIPO on March 2004, 39 months later. The third 1 million patent applications took less than 30 months, the fourth took 18 months, and the fifth took 16 months in March 2009.

Comparing the same time frame between 1985 and 2008, the GDP growth more than 30 times while the annual patent applications growth close to 90 times.

Here is the link to the article in Chinese with the chart on patent application growth.

This is a very impressive growth, and it reflects the China enterprises are using patent protection to protect their invention, and at the same time, foreign enterprises really thinks that is important to apply and get patent granted in China. I also understand that the growth reflects in people turn over in some of the agent firms in China.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

4 June 1989 Tiananmen Square

It has been 20 years.

Let us have a moment for those who were killed, hurt, and deprived of human rights since then. There are activists still kept in prison because of what happened 20 years ago.

There are many ways to show we are concerned. Here is one of them:
My Square is Tiananmen Square - Solidarity photo action

The Chinese government also shows their concern by shutting down web access to a lot of sites in the past few days, including twitter. People in Southern China also cannot watch Hong Kong TV that they used to watch in the past.


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Chinese Bidder on Yves St. Laurent Auction Refuses to Pay $40 Million

I think that caught a lot of attention lately, in particular, the Chinese guy who succeed in bidding the Chinese Bronze Rat Head and Rabbit Head last week at Christie's.

This 'winner' hold a press conference on 2 Mar 2009, proudly saying that he will not pay, and the other spokesperson in the press conference said (in Chinese) "The world has learnt a lesson".

I think we learnt that lesson long time ago and this press conference just reinforce our learning:
We demand money on account for all Chinese customers, no matter they are new or recurring customers. In particular, when it is time for filing of application that we need to pay for government fee, we felt as urgent as the client. That is, if they don't pay us money on account, we will not pay on their behalf for any government fee.

We do understanding inventors / companies do have cash flow problem from time to time, but holding a press conference and say that out loud (and proudly) "... what I want to stress is that I will not pay" is a little bit too much.

See the related news here:


Saturday, September 8, 2007

New administrative regulation for patent application

The State Intellectual Property Office of PRC (SIPO) issued a administrative regulation on 27 Aug which will become effective on 1 Oct 2007. As of today, I cannot find the English version on the official web. This is the highlight, with the original numbering:

2. Applicant or Patent Agent should not involved in abnormal patent application;

3. Abnormal patent application includes:
3.1 Same person or legal entity has submitted multiple patent applications with similar contents; or caused to submit multiple patent applications with similar contents.
3.2 Same person or legal entity has submitted multiple patent applications that copy prior arts; or cause to submit multiple patent applications that copy prior arts.
3.2 Patent agent that submit patent applications as described in 3.1 and 3.2.

4. SIPO may take action against abnormal patent application according to patent law and regulations, and may take additional action....

The Chinese version of this can be found here.

So what happen to incremental improvement to existing technology? On the good side, it protect existing technology, but on the other hand, it discourage small but useful invention. This may be working in line with the recent patent changes in US. However, the new regulation may have a damaging effect on the raise of annual growth of patent application in China, currently running at a rate of 20%+ per year. But like other regulation in China, we cannot only read the words, we really need to wait and see how SIPO exercise the right of this regulation.


Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Service for inventors in China

Hi, after so many months, I am back. I was planning for expansion of our service offering, so we dont want to limit ourself to handle patent applications in China, Hong Kong, United States and Europe. Let's talk about that later.

While we are brain storming and soul searching, we looked at what type of services are being offered for inventors in China and found something interesting. Here is the first one, with the web site called, this is a site that post descriptions and most likely pictures, so in case you dont read Chinese, you can still enjoy some good looking pictures.

You may wonder that good looking pictures may not be able to reflect a new technology break through. Yes, that is right, as you may know more than 80% of patent applied in China are design patent, so a picture or two will give you good description of the patent.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

Is it a mouse (Micky Mouse), no, it is a cat!

Now it is a well publized news that a state run amusement park in Beijing has all sorts of characters not own by the park, like all Disney characters, Hello Kitty, Dora Amon, etc, running around in the park as an attraction. It was reported that the park was operating in this way for more than one year. The banner at the gate said, 'Disneyland is too far away, King Shan Park is close to you.' When confronted by a Japanese reporter, the park manager said that 'that is not Micky Mouse, as a matter of fact, it is a cat with big ears...' More could be seen at here.

This is not a new trick, about 2400 years ago in China, a senior offical wanted to know who were on his side, brought a deer in front of the king and said it was a good horse, some of the officals kept silence while the others said that it was a deer, not a horse. King did not know who to trust, eventually more and more said it was a horse. Then the testing offical knew who were his party members and used them to fool the King.

History is repeating 2400 years later. You think it is a mouse or a cat, check it out again!


Monday, April 30, 2007

Visit China Import and Export trade fair

This session I am very busy with various business and personal matter, so have to do the visit on Sunday.

I visited the show because two of our clients asked us to do, to check out if there is any infringing products. I spotted one potential infringement and decided to purchase the product for further analysis. We will have our associated company in China to handle that later.

After doing what I have to do, I also want to see other types of goods, fishing if you like. I saw at least 5 counts of possible infringement, two are design patents, one utility patent. These can be good job to work for their IP owner. As I am not a lawyer in Hong Kong, I have more freedom to cold call custmers!

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Guangzhou Trade Fair

Each year in April and October, there are Guangzhou Trade Fair. It started in 1957 and was the only channel for export from China. Over the fifty years, the trade fair only allow export companies in China to show in the trade fair, and foreign buyers as visitor. Average Chinese citizens are not allowed to entered into the show. Starting this year, the 101st Guangzhou Trade Fair, oversea sellers are allowed to display their products for importing into China, so it becomes an import and export trade fair and rename itself as China Import and Export Fair. Because of the large number of products it carries, it has two separated sessions. The first session ended in 20 Apr and the second session is still in progress.
According to State Intellectual Property Office of PRC, there were 203 case of complaints for infringement of intellectual property in the first session, which represents a 15% decrease over last year. The official news (in Chinese) can be found here.
I have a customer who carries products displayed in second session, and I will go to Guangzhou to see the exhibition and check out if there are any infringing products. The second session ends on 30 Apr, next Monday. Then it will be the long holiday in China for the 1 May labour day.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Amendment of patent bill in Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Government is in the process to update the patent bill to implement a protocol adopted by the World Trade Organisation related to the issues related to import and payment of license fee for generic patented drugs, this is in particular addressing public health problems.
Speech by government officials on the subject can be found in a speech made on April 18.


Sunday, April 1, 2007

State of intellectual property protection in China

I attended a confeeence today. I think the best quote is "????????????????", translated into "Others' property is free, as for mine, don't even think about it." by Social Brain Foundtion, a foundation in China. This is to describe the state of intellectual property protection in China. What a good statement!


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Starbucks in Beijing Palace Museum

People Congress is in session in Beijing. Two bills related to IPR would be discussed, one of them being the new Patent Law, the other, will be Private Property Law.

On top of that, recent Chinese media also gives quite some air time/coverage on the issue related to a small coffee shop in Palace Museum (also known as Forbidden City). Starbucks has been operating a small outlet in Palace Museum for more than 6 years, in a house that was used to be a common room for king's consultants, which was equivalent to meeting room for the senior ministries.

In recent months, a lot of people, and now including members of People Congress, want to kick Starbucks out of Palace Museum immediately, regardless of any commercial contract between the tenant and landlord. These opinions said that it pose danger to China's national culture. One of the report of the news can be seen here.

I have visited Palace Museum more than 6 years ago. Without Starbucks, I think that will be modern version of shops selling icy cold soft drinks, vendors selling ice cream (yes I bought ice cream in Palace Museum in my last visit, and I believe it is a European brand), vendors selling cheap replicate of old artificate. I dont know whether they will ban foreign brands such as American soft drinks or European ice cream in order to protect China's national culture after they successfully kick Star?

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