Tips for Obtaining and Enforcing Patents in China

There are some lesser known alternatives for protecting and enforcing patents in China that can save patent owners both time and money. For example, a utility model patent application can be a quicker and less expensive alternative for obtaining patent protection. The utility model application has no substantive examination and allows an unlimited number of claims (until October 1, 2009, when the limit will be 10 claims) directed only to a product (no method claims). The utility model patent is granted in 9-14 months and is effective for 10 years. Only when a challenge is made to the utility model patent is proof of validity required. A popular strategy is to file a utility model application in China and a PCT application at the same time; then, upon entry of the PCT into the Chinese national stage, the utility model is abandoned in favor of the utility patent application.