To be patentable, an invention must be susceptible of industrial application, new and involving an inventive step. Certain types of inventions are expressly excluded, namely:

  • a discovery, scientific theory or mathematical method;
  • an aesthetic creation;
  • a scheme, rule or method for performing a mental act, playing a game or doing business, or a programme for a computer;
  • the presentation of information;
  • a method (not a product - a substance or composition for use in such method) for treatment of the human or animal body by surgery or therapy and a diagnostic method practised on the human or animal body;
  • an invention the publication or working of which would be contrary to public order or morality;
  • a plant or animal variety or an essentially biological process for the production of plants or animals, other than a microbiological process or the products or the products of such a process. (However, separate provision has been made for the protection of plant varieties under a separate Plant Varieties Protection Ordinance which was passed in May 1996 but has not yet been brought into effect.)

The novelty requirement raises an interesting issue, in that UK patents have a novelty standard encompassing worldwide use as well as worldwide publication, whereas the Chinese Patent Office has a standard of domestic use (but worldwide publication). Under the new regime, it is therefore possible to register a valid patent for an invention in China which had been used but not published outside China and so would be invalid if registered in the UK. Such a patent will however be invalid in Hong Kong under the new legislation, which expressly adopts a standard of worldwide use.

Further information on the above may be obtained via Linklaters & Paines Hong Kong office or via any of the other nine Linklaters & Paines offices world-wide, located in Singapore, Tokyo, London, Brussels, Paris, Frankfurt, New York, Washington D.C. and Moscow. Contact details for the various L&P offices worldwide are available via the Linklaters & Paines corporate listing c/o Business Monitor Online -

c Linklaters & Paines 1997 - Tel +852 2842 4888