Utility models: searching questions


Wolfgang Bublak and Yingkun Brunner

Utility models: searching questions

Ollyy / Shutterstock.com

Amendments to SIPO’s guidelines for the examination of utility patents may help stop the proliferation of ‘junk’ utility models in China. Wolfgang Bublak and Yingkun Brunner report.

China has, historically, been comparatively weak in the fields of science and technology innovation, not least in the life sciences. The inventions and creations of many small and medium-sized enterprises were of a low standard technically, and the majority were of limited importance.

For this reason, the Patent Law of the People’s Republic of China provided for three different types of patent: invention patents, utility model patents and design patents.

Of these, the initial purpose of the utility model was to protect those small inventions and creations for a minimum of 10 years. Because innovation was comparatively weak, there was a lower standard for novelty and innovation than that set for an invention patent. An amendment to the Patent Law in 2008 raised the standard for novelty to the same level as for an invention patent, but for innovation the lower standard remained in place, as it does today.

SMEs, patent law, China patent law, SIPO