It is true to say that China’s intellectual property regime has earned a bad reputation in the past. And its reputation for copying others’ products and selling them for less is even worse. Which has led many innovators to think, “it isn’t worth patenting my invention in China”.

However, that is changing for the better and, if projected sales of a product in China justify it, or if you are manufacturing your product in China, then not getting a patent there could be a very big (and possibly expensive) mistake. China not only has one of the largest consumer markets in the world, but is also one of the biggest manufacturing bases. In order to try and preserve that, their intellectual property regime has been improved and made more user-friendly.

And, slowly but surely, intellectual property generally is becoming increasingly better acknowledged and respected in China.

Here are three points to consider when you ask yourself,

“Is it worth patenting my invention in China?”

1. If you don’t file a patent application in China, there will be nothing to stop a Chinese company from making/selling your invention there. If you have a patent in, say, the UK, you will of course have the means to stop others from selling the invention in the UK. But if those infringing products are coming from, say, China, you may have to take legal action against multiple UK distributors/sellers, rather than being able to take action against the Chinese manufacturer. And, as you take some distributors down, others may pop up in their place. Whereas, if you have a patent in China, you can use it to stop further copies leaving China by using their customs registration process, and then take legal action against the manufacturer with a view to shutting the whole operation down in one fell swoop, which is likely to be cheaper and much less complex, in the long run, than the alternative.

2. In general, Chinese patents tend to take less time to be granted than their European counterparts and are, in my experience, often of slightly broader scope.

3. In relation to software patents, the Examination Guidelines have recently been revised to lower the patentability threshold for software-based inventions, even those in the business and medical device fields, making it easier to secure patents for “computer program products”. See here for more information.


So, is it worth patenting your invention in China? This will depend on the specific circumstances: your invention and commercial goals for it. However, it is certainly worth considering.

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