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In June, the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) issued its 2021 Annual Report. The report states that 1.59 million patents and 2.85 million utility models were filed in 2021. While the number of patents grew by 5.9%, the number of utility models showed a slight decrease of 2.5%.
A total number of 696 000 patents were granted last year. According to an article in China Daily, this means that almost 4 million patents have been granted since 2012, with an average annual increase of around 14%. About the same number of Chinese patents - around 4.1 million - are currently in force.
When monitoring the legal status of pending applications and granted patents in China, it is best not only to rely on the data available in Espacenet but also to use resources provided by the CNIPA, such as the Patent Gazette or the CPQUERY database. This is essential, for instance, when checking annual fee payments (visible in CPQUERY, and not in EPO tools).
To help you in your daily work with Chinese patent data, the EPO provides various guides with step-by-step instructions on how to access essential information such as fee payments and other post-grant data in these Chinese sources.
Fig. 4: Extract from an EPO guide to accessing Chinese legal status information in the CNIPA's Patent Gazette. See the Searching in databases - China EPO webpage.
On 1 January 2023, a comprehensive revision of Vietnam's IP law will enter into force. Some of the most important changes include:
The introduction of a pre-grant opposition process
This will allow any third party to file a request for opposition within nine months of the publication of the application (after 18 months from filing/priority). Prior to this, third parties could challenge a pending application only by submitting an observation to the patent office. This third-party observation process will continue in parallel with the new opposition process.
Additional grounds for requesting invalidation
Until now, third parties could request invalidation of a patent where the invention did not meet the requirements for patentability or where the patent was granted to a person who was not entitled to it. According to the new regulations, invalidation can also be requested on the following additional grounds:
Any third party may request invalidation at any time on any of these grounds.
The use of foreign examination results
The changes to the law allow the national patent office to use the examination results of corresponding patent applications made abroad during the substantive examination of an application in Vietnam. This will likely accelerate the examination procedure and result in faster turnaround.