Expansion of Design Protection

An amendment to China’s Patent Law, which comes into effect on June 1, 2021, will provide more protection for designs in the future.

Registered designs (design patents) are intended to protect the aesthetic and commercial value of a product, but were previously only valid for ten years. This meant that valuable designs could be legally copied after the protection period expired, which was particularly problematic for creators of aesthetically valuable and enduring classic designs. Article 42.1 of the amendments now adjusts the term of protection of Chinese designs to 15 years from the filing date.

The current version of the Patent Law does not allow protection on individual parts of a design. In order to meet the growing demand for protection of individual design components and to conform to the trend of the global design patent system, the amendments extend the scope of protection of a design patent to parts of a product. This means that innovative design elements of a product are also better protected.

Another new feature is that the provision also provides for priority within 6 months for such design patent applications filed in other jurisdictions. The current Patent Act only provides domestic priority for invention and utility model applications.

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