Review of the patent system


Under the existing patent regime, two types of patent are granted: standard patents and short-term patents. Standard patents are essentially the re-registration of patents granted by the UK Intellectual Property Office, the European Patent Office (designating the United Kingdom) or the State Intellectual Property Patent Office. Original filings cannot be made with the Patents Registry. As a supplement to standard patents, short-term patents, which are not subject to substantive examination, cover protection for inventions with a shorter commercial life; original filings can be made with a maximum term of protection of eight years (as opposed to 20 years for a standard patent).

This system has been in place for more than 10 years. In order to ensure that the system continues to meet the changing needs of the economy – in particular, the vision of developing Hong Kong into a regional innovation and technology hub – as well as to respond to growing calls for the introduction of an original grant patent system allowing inventors to applied for standard patents directly, the government issued a consultation paper seeking views on a review of the patent system.

The keys issues covered under the consultation include the following:

  • Whether an original grant patent system should be introduced.
  • Whether the current re-registration system should be maintained and, if so, whether it should be expanded to recognised patents granted by other patent offices.
  • Whether the short-term patent should be retained in its original form or whether changes should be introduced to the present system – for example, the introduction of the substantive examination system or the extension of the protection period.
  • Whether the provision of patent agency services should be regulated and whether such regulation should apply to all types of patent agency service.

The consultation closed at the end of December 2011.


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