1 May 2005
Pre-emptive Filing of Patented Product and Technology
The development of new- and hi-tech enterprises is invariably tied to the protection of their technologies. Currently, some foreign companies are keeping a close eye on their mainland counterparts and take advantage by applying for patents similar to the latter's in and outside China. However, some patent holders and departments concerned are often left helpless due to shortage of funds and insufficient attention given to the issue.
A case in point is Guangzhou Gaoqi Environmental Protection Technology Corporation. The company applied for patenting its precision electronics product -- a charged cleansing agent -- in 2001, and was granted the patent by the relevant state department in a public announcement issued on 14 May 2003. However, just on the 15th of the same month, a US mechanical engineering company applied to China for patenting its "non-inflammable three-way cleansing solvent", which is basically similar to Gaoqi's product in technological make-up.
This US company has also applied for many other patents in China, all bearing technological resemblance to the inventions of Chinese companies. In cases where its application in China fails, it can still apply overseas. Such pre-emptive patent applications overseas is no doubt jeopardising the development of the industry concerned in China. Relevant departments should pay attention to these new problems that come up in the course of IPR protection.
Liu Lijin of Guangzhou Zhongyu Jiye Down Feather Textile Products Co Ltd, a company that holds more than 20 patents, also expressed concern about the IPR protection of new and high technologies. In his opinion, China should speed up the processing of IPR applications. At present, it takes two to six years to approve the patent application of an invention. The long waiting period not only creates loopholes but also provides enough time for the information related to the invention to be leaked out.