The 13th People's National Congress ("NPC") recently approved the State Council's proposal to restructure China's State Intellectual Property Office ("SIPO"). The proposal intends to consolidate the administration of trademarks and patents and to streamline the enforcement of IPR in China.

According to the proposal, a new SIPO will be set up and will be responsible for:

  1. Patent examination, registration and administration as originally regulated by SIPO;
  2. Trademark examination, registration and administration as currently managed and administered by the State Administration of Industry and Commerce ("SAIC");
  3. Registration and administration of geographic indicators as currently managed and administered by the Gerneral Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine ("GAQSIQ");
  4. Providing general guidance to patents and trademarks enforcement agencies; and
  5. Facilitating the establishment of a comprehensive system to reinforce protection of intellectual property rights ("IPR").

The new SIPO and the patents and trademarks enforcement agency will be supervised by a new State Administration for Market Supervision ("SAMS"), which will take over the responsibilities of, among others, SAIC and GAQSIQ. The aim of restructuring the SIPO is to achieve a more systematic system for the management and protection of IPR. For example, following the proposed restructuring, the SAMS will carry out patent and trademark enforcement actions, thus, rendering administrative enforcement more efficient.

The scale of the proposed restructuring will naturally bring along uncertainties. For instance, copyright administration and enforcement, trade secret protection and plant variety protection are noticeably not addressed or specified as falling within the remit of the new SIPO. No time frame has been set yet for the commencement or completion of this proposed restructuring, but there is every expectation that the restructuring will be officially announced by the Government in the coming months.

For more information, click here to read the full legal update in our "Asia IP & TMT: Quarterly Review" of Q1 2018.

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