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Further to an earlier update, according to an official notice on SIPO's website (Chinese only), the revised Examination Guidelines will enter into force on 1 April 2017. The revised sections of the Guidelines are in particular: Part II, Chapter 1, Section 4.2; Part II, Chapter 9, Sections 2, 3 and 5.2; Part II, Chapter 10, Section 3; Part IV, Chapter 3, Section 4.2; Part IV, Chapter 3, Sections 4.3.1, 4.6.2 and 4.6.3; Part V, Chapter 4, Section 5.2; Part VII, Chapter 7, Sections 7.4.2, 7.4.3 and 7.5.2.
The revised Guidelines will allow the applicant, inter alia, to claim a medium plus computer programme process. In addition, a claim directed to an apparatus may include a programme as a component part. Claims involving business methods shall not be excluded from patent protection if - apart from the description of the business rule and method - they include technical features. Examiners will now also consider experimental data submitted after the date of filing.
With respect to invalidation requests, claim amendments will be possible by adding further limitations from other claims in order to limit the scope of protection. Obvious errors in the claims may also be corrected. File inspection of published Chinese applications prior to grant is no longer limited to documents issued during preliminary examination, but extended to notifications, search reports and decisions issued during substantive examination. For granted Chinese patents, public file inspection now includes access to priority documents and search reports.