Autore: Pederzini Paolo
Pubblicato in Notiziario dell'Ordine dei Consulenti in Proprietà Industriale (N. 1 - Maggio 2008)
La Cina prosegue nei suoi programmi di miglioramento della tutela della Proprietà Intellettuale/Industriale ed affronta la revisione delle proprie disposizioni legislative in materia di brevetti (invenzioni, modelli di utilità e design) e di marchi d’impresa.
E’ utile fare riferimento ad alcuni dati che possono far meglio comprendere quale importanza riveste questa materia per la Cina e per le imprese che operano in Cina o che sono interessate ad operare con questo paese.
Nel corso dello scorso anno 2007 sono state depositate in Cina 694.153 domande di brevetto : 245.161 domande di brevetto per invenzioni industriali; 181.324 domande di brevetto per modelli di utilità; 267.668 domande di design) di cui 586.734 “domestic” e 107.429 provenienti da richiedenti esteri (dall’Italia 1.852 domande). E oltre 700.000 domande di registrazione di marchi d’impresa (comprese domande designazioni internazionali – Sistema di Madrid 1
In Cina fra il 2003 e il 2007 il Ministy of Commerce – MOFCOM - ha investigato su oltre 160.000 casi di violazione di diritti di proprietà intellettuale e oltre 8.400 casi sono stati sottoposti a procedure legali, dei quali più di 7.300 conclusi. Le autorità doganali cinesi hanno investigato 3.310 casi di IPR infringement e sequestrato, nel 2007, 32.000 prodotti contraffatti 2
Nei cinque anni dal 2002 al 2006 le People’s Courts cinesi, ai vari livelli, hanno ricevuto 430 domande di preliminary injunctions, 425 delle quali sono state concluse con l’83.17% di domande accolte. Nello stesso periodo le corti cinesi hanno ricevuto anche 642 domande di “preliminary evidences preservation” di cui 607 accolte e 218 domande di “preliminary property preservation, di cui 218 accolte. Tutti i casi sopra indicati sono stati decisi entro le 48 ore dal ricevimento delle domande, assicurando la rapidità nella considerazione delle misure cautelative riguardanti i diritti di Proprietà Intellettuale/Industriale 3 .
Secondo il rapporto della WIPO del 21 febbraio 2008 (PR/2008/536) per quanto riguarda le domande di brevetto depositate sulla base del Patent Cooperation Traty (PCT) la Cina si colloca al 7° posto fra le top ten filing countries, con 5.456 domande (+ 38.1% rispetto all’anno precedente); l’Italia si trova all’11° posto con 2.927 domande (+1,9% rispetto all’anno precedente). I così detti “big five Offices” che hanno ricevuto domande PCT, Cina, Corea del Sud, Giappone, Stati Uniti d’america, e Ufficio Brevetti Europeo, nel loro insieme, hanno ricevuto il 77% di tutte le domande di brevetto PCT depositate nel corso dell’anno 2007 4 .
La Cina è tra i paesi che hanno ratificato il Protocollo di emendamento dei TRIPS che prevede una maggiore flessibilità per i paesi in via di sviluppo di accedere ai medicinali. L’ambasciatore cinese presso il WTO, Mr. Sun Zhengyu, ha ufficialmente informato il WTO a mezzo di lettera indirizzata al Direttore Generale, Mr. Pascal Lamy, datata 28 novembre 2007 (approvazione of the Standing Commitee of the 10th National People’s Congress del 03 october, 2007). All’inizio di dicembre 2007 , 14 “paesi” avevano ratificato il Protocollo: Stati Uniti d’America, Svizzera, El Salvador, Rep. Di Corea, Norvegia, India, Filippine, Israele, Giappone, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Cina e Unione Europea 5 .
Nel programma delle autorità cinesi 2006-2010 (11th Five-Year Plan) che riguarda l’incoraggiamento delle indipendent innovations e il mantenimento degli investimenti per il commercio e la competizione prevedeva esplicitamente 6:
1. Revising the Law on Patents, Law on Trademarks, Law on Copyright, and the implementation rules for all three;
2.Speeding up the drafting of regulations for folk literature and arts copyright protection and the Payment Standards for Works Played by Radio and Television Stations;
3.Expediting research into legislation for protection of new plant varieties, cultural heritage protection, traditional knowledge protection and geographical sign protection, and try to complete the National Basic Law on IP. Whenever any of the research or drafting of these laws or regulations is finished, SIPO will report to the Central Government so that the can be listed in the national annual legislative plan;
4. Completing relevant regulations for IPR law enforcement and the judgment criteria of IPR infringements;
5.Carrying out further research and the formulation of supplementary policies and supporting measures to IP laws and regulations;
6.Giving priority to the formulation of measures supporting independent IP rights and the industrialization of IP, and improving the flexibility of the laws and regulations;
7.Improving the IP legal system at the local level.
Detailed work in various aspects:
1. After finishing research into the third round of amendments to the Patent Law, SIPO will publicize its proposal to relevant government departments, some enterprises and public institutions, universities, scientific institutes and patent agencies, and then complete a formal proposal within 2006.
2. In order to normalize patent agents' business behavior and market order, and safeguarding applicants' interest, SIPO will speed up the formulation of Regulations on Patent Agents.
3. SIPO will revise and publish a Guide to Patent Examination, and then sponsor a series of activities to explain the guidebook and translate it into English.
1. Speed up research on amendments of the Trademark Law, and produce a firm proposal within 2006;
2.Expedite drafting the Supervision Regulations for Trademark Agents, and finish all preparatory work for implementation;
3. Undertake intensive research into the difficulties and hot issues relating to Trademark Law enforcement, and then formulate the Notice on Issues Related to Trademark Law Enforcement in order to solve the problems revealed;
4. Study the conflicts between trademarks and traditional names of enterprises, and draft a relevant regulation as soon as possible.
1. Accelerate formulation of the Payment Standards for Works Played by Radio and Television Stations, Regulation of Folk Literature and Arts Copyright Protection;
2. Complete the amendment of the Methods of Works Registration on Writer's Will;
3. Speed up drafting the Provision of Internet Information Copyright Protection, so as to encourage more and arts, compositions, performances, audio and video products to be promulgated on the Internet.
In addition, other relevant laws and regulations will be created such as rules and measures concerning IPR customs protection, IPR protection of certain pharmaceutical knowledge as well as Chinese medical varieties protection.
For solving those outstanding problems during court practice, more judicial explanations will be provided after careful research and collecting ideas from the public. Four judicial explanations from the Supreme Court involving unfair competition, new plant patent infringement, IPR conflict and MTV copyright will be completed within 2006. A judicial explanation concerning applicable laws in patent rights infringement will also soon be drafted. The Judicial Explanation of Issues Relating to Applicable Laws Concerning IPR Infringement Cases, issued by the Supreme Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate in December 2004, will be further improved in order to provide a suitable legal basis for punishing IPR infringements.
Coerentemente col programma 2006 – 2010, il 31 luglio 2006 lo State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) ha promulgato il primo testo del “Draft of Amendments to the Patent Law” per la pubblica discussione. Successivamente il primo testo è stato revisionato il 27 dicembre 2006 e passato allo studio del LAOSC, Legal Affair Office of the State Council: è ancòra aperta la pubblica discussione.
Del “Draft” in esame vengono segnalati i seguenti importanti emendamenti alla legge brevetti che sono qui riportati in lingua inglese 7
1. First Filing
The current Patent Law limits its first filing requirements for inventions created in China to Chinese entities and individuals. The Draft expands the requirement to include foreigners. Under current practice, Chinese affiliates commonly transfer inventions to foreign parent companies. Then, the foreign parent company chooses in which country to file first. This strategy will no longer
work, according to the Draft. The Draft also additionally prescribed that failure to meet the first-filing-in-China requirement will result in rejection of the relevant Chinese application or invalidation of the relevant Chinese patent. Therefore, multinational companies should be wary of this new requirement.
2. Absolute Novelty
To be consistent with popular patent practice worldwide, the Draft adopts an absolute novelty standard.
Prior to the Draft, the Chinese patent system has used the blended novelty standard. Under the current Patent Law, prior art includes (1) publication inside or outside China and (2) public use or other means of disclosure only in China.
In the Draft, prior art is broadened to include public use or other means of disclosure outside China.
Therefore, foreign applicants should prevent any disclosure of inventions before filing a patent application in China.
3. Disclosure of Genetic Resources
To protect China's rich biological and genetic resources, the Draft addresses genetic resource issues for the first time in Chinese Patent Law. According to the Draft, the origin of a genetic resource must be disclosed in the specifications if the invention's existence relies on the acquisition and use of a genetic resource.
The Draft requires patents to be rejected if the acquisition and use of genetic resources is in violation of relevant laws and regulations.
The impact of this provision on the Chinese patent practice depends greatly upon how genetic resource will be defined and what will constitute illegal acquisition and use. Under the current laws and regulations, only the PRC Stock Farming Law and the PRC Tentative Regulation on Human Genetic Resources provide regulations and restrictions on acquiring and using animal and human genetic resources, especially for exporting purposes.
4. Design Patents
In China, design patents account for about one-third of the total patents. China ranks first in the world for its quantity of design patents. However, many of the design patents are of a low quality. To improve the situation, the Draft requires design patents to be dissimilar to prior designs and significantly different from any combination of elements of prior designs. Also, the Draft rejects patent applications for planer printings whose design pattern plays only the identification function. This heightens the threshold for design patents, so as to exclude trivial design patents.
In addition to the above revisions, the Draft provides more new provisions for design patents, including (1) the Draft makes compulsory the current optional brief description of design for design applications, (2) the Draft allows a design application including multiple similar designs of a product.
5. More Powerful Patent Protection
The Draft gives administrative authorities more powers, including the power (1) to question witnesses and other relevant parties; (2) to review and make copies of relevant contracts, receipts, accounting books and other documents; (3) to conduct a spot inspection; (4) to detain infringing goods and specialized equipment used in patent infringement; (5) to issue orders to stop patent infringement; and (6) to confiscate infringing goods and specialized equipment used in patent infringement in severe cases. However, damages are still not available through administrative action.
The Draft adds punishments for violating an injunction. If a court or an administrative authority issues an injunction, then repeat offenders may be subject to an order to stop the infringement; may have their illegal income confiscated; and may be fined an amount of less than three times the illegal income or less than RMB 100,000 in case of no income. The Draft clearly includes evidence preservation.
According to the Draft, when an application for pre-suit evidence preservation is filed and accepted, the court must make a decision within forty-eight hours and may require a bond for granting the request. Within fifteen days of executing evidence preservation, a lawsuit must be initiated or the preservation will be released.
6. Statutory Damages
The current Patent Law calculates damages based on the patentee's losses, or infringer's profits, or a license agreement. However, the current Patent Law does not stipulate statutory damages if all of the above three methods are unavailable. Under current practice, statutory damages can be from RMB 5,000 to 500,000, at the discretion of the Supreme Court's judicial interpretation. The Draft
incorporates a provision on statutory damages which increase the upper limit to RMB 1,000,000.
7. Compulsory Licenses
Although no compulsory license has been granted in China since the establishment of the patent system, it is always a hot topic in the patent field. The Draft clarifies that under ordinary circumstances, compulsory licenses should not be granted unless the patentee fails to exploit or sufficiently exploit the invention within three years of receiving the patent and a normal license from the patentee has not been obtained within a reasonable period of time on reasonable terms. The Draft also addresses compulsory licenses granted because of national emergency or public interest. National emergency or public interest includes a public health crisis caused by the occurrence and/or spread of an epidemic disease. In such a case, a compulsory license would be granted to prevent and control occurrences of epidemic diseases and treat patients with epidemic diseases.
The Draft adds to the justifications for compulsory license the manufacturing of patented pharmaceuticals treating epidemic diseases for export to a developing or least-undeveloped country.
8. Bad-Faith Action
Another landmark revision in the Draft is patentee liability for bad-faith actions. According to the Draft, if the patentee, knowing that the patented invention or design belongs to prior art, still files litigation or administrative action against others, the patentee is liable for damages to the alleged infringer. This revision will reduce China's overabundance of bad-faith actions.
9. Litigation Delays
The current Patent Law and current practice provides a two-year statute of limitations for patent infringement litigation. For continuing patent infringements, the statute of limitations does not apply, and the patentee may sue after the two-year term expires. For continuing patent infringements, an injunction order can be issued and the damages available to the patentee are limited to those that occurred in the two years immediately before the filing date of the lawsuit. The Draft limits injunctions when the patentee fails to take action within five years of knowledge of the infringement.
No injunction may be issued if the infringer is willing to pay royalties as agreed upon by the parties or decided by the court. Therefore, the patentee should take action against infringers in a timely manner to avoid being required by court to license the patent to the infringer.
10. Defining Infringements
The current Patent Law has only very general provisions for finding patent infringements. It does not address the important principles widely used in handling patent infringement disputes by courts and administrative authorities that were developed through judicial practice.
The Draft incorporates into the patent law the doctrine of infringing equivalents, prosecution history estoppel, and prior art defense when determining an infringement.
Infringing equivalents are limited to the equivalents of technical features rather than the whole solution, and it adopts the function-way-effect test. Prosecution history estoppel applies to written amendments or statements restricting the patent scope that the patentee made during patent prosecution or invalidation proceedings to comply with granting requirements. Finally, the alleged infringer is protected from infringement claims if the alleged infringing product or process belongs to prior art.
11. Parallel import and the Bolar exception
The Draft extends the scope of patent infringement exemptions. Parallel import is explicitly defined as non-infringement, and the Bolar exception is adopted for pharmaceutical related patents. According to the Draft, an entity may make, use or import patented pharmaceuticals or medical devices solely for acquiring information necessary for regulatory approval, and a third party may make or import and sell the patented pharmaceuticals or medical devices to that entity. The Bolar exception shortens the protection term of pharmaceutical and medical device patents. However, the Draft has no corresponding provisions for possible extensions of patent terms. Even worse, the Draft fails to provide time limits for starting the activities under the oeBolar exception. Obviously, this revision is disadvantageous to pharmaceutical giants.
Editors of This Issue :
Da altra fonte 8 viene puntualizzato che il Draft prevede inoltre:
Patent/utilità Model Crossover
If applications for an invention patent and for a utility model patent based on the same invention were filed on the same day by the same applicant, the applicant may take advantage of the crossover of the invention and utility model applications. An applicant might take advantage of the crossover of the applications for an invention patent and utility model patent when filing the applications in China through the Paris Convention, but that at the national entry into China for a PCT application, the applicant has to select either invention or utility model, but not both.
A sub-divisional application may still be filed based on a divisional application, however, the time limit to file such sub-divisional application will now be governed by the status of the initial application rather than that of the parent patent application. The type of the application, either for an invention patent or for a utility model patent, must be the same as that of the initial application.
Relativamente ai marchi d’impresa è in corso un progetto di revisione della legge in vigore dal 2001.
I principali punti del progetto di revisione possono essere riassunti come segue 9:
- è previsto di l’eliminazione dell’esame sostanziale del marchio rispetto a prior trademark rights;
- implementazione del procedimento di opposizione;
- introduzione del procedimento di divisional application;
- semplificazione dei procedimenti per la determinazione dei diritti di marchio;
- allargamento della tutela del marchio;
- semplificazione delle procedure di registrazione dei marchi;
- l’armonizzazione col Singapore Treaty on the Trademark Laws, con la possibilità di ammettere che una domanda di registrazione di marchio comprenda più classi della classificazione internazionale dei prodotti e dei servizi.
Per quanto concerne le problematiche, non certo di poco conto allo stato attuale, riguardanti l’Enforcement dei diritti di Proprietà Industriale in Cina è interessante l’articolo di Jianjun Guo, LL.M in Proprietà Intellettuale, Turin Law School and WIPO riportato nella pubblicazione Italian Intellectual Property, ed.Giuffrè, 2008 , Yearbook 2007, pagg.. 33-68, dal titolo: Protection and Enforcement fo Intellectual Property Rights: a WTO case against China.
1 Fonti CCPIT e Unitalen; per dati statistici completi vedi: www.sipo.gov.cn/sipo_english/statistics/
2 Fonte: Unitalen febb.2008).
3 Fonte: Dragon Intellectual Property Law Firm, Dec. 20, 2007, report di Jiang Zhipei, giudice e presidente dell’ Intellectual Property Tribunal of the Supreme Peple’s Court (SPC)
4 Per dati completi vedi kttp/www.wipo.int/pressroom/en/articles/2008/artiche_0006.html
5 Fonte: Dragon Intellectual Property Law Firm, dec 20, 2007
6 Fonte: SIPO
7 Fonte: CTW General Group IP ATTORNEYS & ATTORNEYS AT LAW
8 Fonte: IP Dragon 27 febb. 2008; //ip-updates.blogspot.com/
9 Fonte: China Patents & Trademarks N° 4, 2007, editore China Patent & trademark Pubblications Office (H.K.China Patent Agent (H.K. Ltd)