China’s IP Office State -Intellectual Property Office (SIPO)- has released new guidelines that loosen the standards to patent a software. So far it is unclear if these changes will effect the Patent practice.
In an effort to further enhance protection of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) and to promote implementation of the innovation-driven development strategy, the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) of China has revised its Examination Guidelines for Patents, which will come into force as of April 1, 2017.
One of the most significant changes in the proposed amendments to the Guidelines confirms that software and business methods are patentable. The proposed revisions include the patent eligibility of computer software and business method, the acceptability of post-filing experimental data for chemistry inventions, the rules of claim amendments during patent invalidation procedures, and the availability of public access to patent documentations.
Notably, the proposed revisions may lift the long standing curbs on software patents.
SIPO’s new Guidelines: What will change?
The examination guidelines will loosen the standards for obtaining business method patents if there is a technical element to the novel business method. Presumably these inventions were previously denied patentability on the basis that they were intellectual rules or methods under Article 25 of the Patent Law. The proposed guidelines state: “Claims related to business methods that contain both business rules and methods and technical characteristics, shall not be excluded from the possibilities of obtaining patent rights be Article 25 of the Patent Law.”
The guidelines also appear to loosen the standards for obtaining software enabled inventions: In the second line of Part II, chapter IX, section 5.2, paragraph 1, the third sentence of the Patent Examination Guidelines are amended from, “and describe in detail which parts of the computer program are to be performed and how to perform them” to provide that “The components may not only include hardware, but may also include programs.”
To wrap it up: If the new patent examination guidelines draft is adopted as written above, China is about to become friendlier to business methods and software patents in particular and patent owners more generally by reducing the complexity of prosecution procedures and making more information publicly available.
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Mr. Richard Huang, ZY Partners, via LinkedIn