Hong Kong Proposes Changes to their Patent System

Hong Kong proposes changes to their patent system

The Government of Hong Kong instructed an Advisory Committee, with input from legal professionals, academics and other relevant bodies, to review their current system for patent registration. The Advisory Committee issued a formal report of their findings on the 7th of February 2013. The report stated several changes to the patent system which the Committee deemed would have a positive effect. There are three key changes that the Committee has proposed. Firstly, the refinement of the short term patent system. Secondly, the introduction of an original patent grant and thirdly, introducing a general regulatory framework for those in the Hong Kong patent profession.

Refinement of the short term patent system will attempt to reduce the risk of unreasonable threat of infringement by patentees by bringing in an examination process. This is because as the law stands there is no requirement that a short term patent (lasting a maximum of 10 years) will be examined prior to the commencement of infringement proceedings. The report recommends that substantive examination should be introduced before the threat of or commencement of proceedings.

The reform concerning original grant patents has come to fruition following the complexity patentees are faced with when attempting to apply or prosecute a Hong Kong patent. This is because European, British and Chinese patents are re-registered in Hong Kong without substantive examination, therefore the report advises that Hong Kongs Intellectual Property Department should implement its own examination system so that patentees can apply and prosecute a Hong Kong patent without first filing a patent in the above territories.

Finally, introduction of a regulatory framework is essentially to control the patent profession. The report recommends that an official organization be set up specifically to regulate the activity of patent professional to prevent unqualified persons acting as patent attorneys, agents or professionals.

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