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New patent law in Republic of China

3 November 1997

This is to inform you that, with the return of Hong Kong back to People's Republic of China, a new patent law was in operation on 27 June 1997, which now modifies the filing and grant procedures of a patent in Hong Kong.

Under the former Hong Kong patent law, it was possible to apply for patent protection in Hong Kong within five years from the grant of a UK patent or of a European Patent (confirmed in the United Kingdom).

According to the new patent law it is possible to obtain two types of patents in Hong Kong:

  • a "standard" patent (of a duration of twenty years) based upon either the English or European Patent (designating the United Kingdom) or the Chinese Patent;
  • a "short term" patent (of a duration of eight years), which provides for patent applications to be filed originally and directly in Hong Kong.

We would like to draw your attention to the fact that it is possible to obtain protection in Hong Kong also by filing an International Application (PCT), provided that this application designates either the United Kingdom or the European Patent or China.

In the case of PCT application, if protection is sought in China also for a utility model, then, in Hong Kong, it is possible to obtain both a "short term" patent and a "standard" patent.

In order to obtain a "standard" patent it is necessary to proceed with two different stages:

Within six months after the publication of the Chinese, English or European patent application (designating the United Kingdom), and provided that such publication was made after June 27 1997, it is necessary to apply for such protection in Hong Kong.

Then, within six months from the grant of said Chinese, English or European patent (confirmed in the United Kingdom) it is necessary to request the grant of the same in Hong Kong too.

As to English or European patents (designating the United Kingdom) already granted or in process of being granted or whose application was published before June 27 1997, transitional provisions are provided.

As far as industrial designs are concerned, before the issuance of the new law, the proprietor of a registered design in the United Kingdom enjoyed the same privileges and rights in Hong Kong as if the certificate of registration had been issued with an extension to Hong Kong.
However, with the new law, the industrial design applications have to be filed directly in Hong Kong.
Even in this case, transitional rules have been provided as to the passage from the former to the new Law.

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