On September 4, 2023, China’s National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) released the Typical Cases of Abnormal Patent Applications (非正常专利申请典型案例). These Typical Cases “warn irregular patent application actors, and promote the improvement of patent application quality” per CNIPA. As China moves from quantity to quality, China’s National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) has been rejecting patent applications for being irregular or abnormal, including almost 1 million patent applications in 2022. This move from quantity to quality may also be behind the 25% decline in utility model patent grants in 2023 H1 while invention patent grants were up 10%. A translation of the Typical Cases follows.
1. The agency submits plagiarized or fabricated patent applications
Case 1: An intellectual property agency submitted patent applications that plagiarized existing technology or had obviously the same content. The patent applications it represented involved different technical fields, but except for the title of the invention, the contents of the description and claims are exactly the same. In addition, after the agency was notified about the abnormal patent application it voluntarily withdrew them but then submitted multiple identical applications again.
Where, after being notified by the State Intellectual Property Office of, and voluntarily withdrawing the abnormal patent applications, the aforesaid agency again submits the same patent applications on a repeated basis and the number of such applications is relatively large, the agency shall be subject to the administrative punishment of “revocation of the practicing license of the patent agency” and be included in the list of serious violations of law and dishonest acts for market supervision and administration.
2. The agency submits a patent application using a false address and contact information
Case 2: In the process of notification and verification of abnormal patent applications, it was found that the addresses and phone numbers of applicants for a large number of patent applications were filled in falsely. For example, the applicant of a patent application submitted by an intellectual property agency had an address of” Room 602, **** Building, × × City, ×× Province” and upon field verification by the local intellectual property office, the building had only five floors, and the sixth floor was the rooftop.
Another example is that the applicant of the patent application submitted by an intellectual property agency is a certain hospital in XX province, and the address is “unit 204, **** city, XX city, XX province”. After on-site inspection by the local intellectual property office, the location is residential housing and there is no hospital nearby.
The CNIPA issued an administrative penalty on February 20, 2023, ordering the two agencies to stop accepting new patent agency business for 6 months, and were included in the list of serious illegal and dishonest acts for market supervision and administration.
3. Organizing the Fabrication, Buying and Selling Patents
Case 3: An enterprise and 50 companies associated with it hired local college students to fabricate patent applications in order to obtain patent application subsidies. The submitted applications generally had claims of “piled-up” features and complex mechanical structures to achieve simple functions.
At the same time, these companies or their legal representatives changed the applicants of the applications to their own names during the period when they were authorized to handle the registration, and in many of these applications, the inventors were changed, and after the examination of the patent applications, the applications were assigned to different parties across the country. Their acts are suspected of purchasing or reselling the right to apply for a patent at a profit, or the patent right, or falsely changing the inventors not for the purpose of exploiting the patented technologies or designs, but for other illegitimate purposes.
Case 4: A company formed a large-scale abnormal patent application gang with more than 20 people including Wu as the core, and registered 718 shell companies nationwide from 2018 to 2020 with no R&D investment, no R&D personnel, and no production and operation in the whole country. The above-mentioned shell companies submitted a total of 3,602 abnormal patent applications, and the claims were all characterized by stacking of technical features and unnecessary narrowing of the claims. At the same time, the above-mentioned companies also changed the applicant and inventor of many patent applications during the period of examination and registration, and changed the patentee within a short period of time after the patent authorization, and once all the patents under the shell companies were transferred, the shell companies were canceled. The gang was suspected of buying and selling patent application rights or patent rights and falsely changing inventors without implementing any patented technology, design or other legitimate purposes and there is an obvious intent to defraud governments for financial subsidies. The local market supervision department has ordered it to return the intellectual property financial subsidy funds, and jointly investigated the gang with the procuratorate and public security organs.