Introduction to the Fourth Revision of the Chinese Patent Law (2021)
01 August 2021


The fourth revision to the has been implemented on 1st June 2021. The revision of the Patent Law aims to strengthen the protection of the legitimate rights of patentees, to promote the implementation of patents, to improve the intellectual property protection mechanism and to increase penalties for patent infringements. The main aspects of the amendments are as follows:


1. Expand the protection for design patents

  • Extend duration of protection: The duration of protection for design patents has been extended from 10 years to 15 years, consistent with the .
  • Define object of protection: Partial design becomes a patentable object.
  • Domestic priority: It is allowed to claim the priority of an earlier Chinese patent application, and the priority period is 6 months.

2. Extension of the duration of patent protection

  • Where a patent for invention is granted after four years from the date filing and after three years from the date of request for substantive examination due to the unreasonable delay of patent examination, a remedy of patent term extension can be requested.
  • Term extension of medicine patents: A remedy of patent term extension of not more than 5 years can be requested for invention patents related new medicines after the medicine has obtained marketing authorization in China; the total valid patent duration shall not exceed 14 years from the date the new medicine is approved.

3. Introduction of open license of patents

  • Patentee can voluntarily announce open license of his patent and set license fees; other entity can obtain patent implementation license after paying license fees to the patentee.
  • The patentee can withdraw the announcement of open license at any time; but it does not affect the validity of the prior open license.
  • During the implementation period of the open license, the patentee shall not grant others an exclusive or sole license of the patent.
  • During the implementation period of the open license, annuity shall be reduced or exempted.

4. Increase compensation for infringement and improve infringement litigation system

  • New rules on punitive damages: For intentional infringement of patent rights, where the circumstances are serious, a compensation of one to five times can be penalized.
  • Increase amount of statutory damages: The amount of compensation for patent infringement is increased to from 30,000 to 5,000,000 yuan.
  • Clarify the period of limitation for legal action: The period of limitation for patent infringement is revised to three years, consistent with the provisions of Chinese Civil Laws.
  • Transfer of burden of proof: In the case the patentee has tried its best to provide evidence, the Court can order the infringer to provide account books and materials related to the infringement.

5. Other amendments

  • Add the principle of good faith: The principle of good faith shall be followed in applying for patents and exercising patent rights. Patent rights shall not be abused to damage public interests or the legitimate rights and interests of others.
  • Improve the mechanism of administrative protection: The Intellectual Property Administration is granted the right to enforce the law; the patent enforcement department has the right to handle patent counterfeit cases and patent infringement disputes.
  • It is specified that the method of nuclear transformation is non patentable subject matter.


In addition, it should be noted that, in accordance with the principles of legislation, the above amendments to the Patent Law are not retroactive. That is, the 15-year protection period of design patent and application of partial design patent are only applicable to patent applications filed after 1st June 2021; the extension of the duration of patent protection due to delayed examination is only applicable to patents granted after 1st June 2021, etc.


After the amendments of the Patent Law, the and the are currently in the revision procedure as well, but they have not yet been published and implemented.


We will keep you duly notified once the relevant laws are enacted.

Download Newsletter of Chinese Patent Law 2021.pdf
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