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April 14, 2021

Changes To China’s Design Protection Laws – Benefits For You

Design specialist, Steven McIlroy


Do you sell your product in China? If so, a number of key changes to China’s design patent laws from 1 June 2021 may benefit you.


What are the changes?

China is introducing new patent laws on 1 June 2021 that will have a significant impact on intellectual property law surrounding designs. These laws will introduce:


Partial design protection – in brief, the scope of protection provided by Chinese design patents will increase.  Specifically, it will now be possible to obtain protection for partial design features thus removing the present limitation whereby a Chinese design patent can protect only the appearance of an entire product that can be sold or used separately.  For example, a manufacturer of shoes will now be able to obtain design protection for a new style of sole without being forced to seek protection for the entire design of the shoe, including the new sole. This addresses an existing shortcoming whereby a competitor could potentially avoid infringement of a Chinese design registration, e.g. by merely altering the appearance of a different part of the shoe whilst copying the new sole design.


Extended length of design protection – the maximum term of a Chinese design patent will be increased from 10 years to 15 years.  Whilst this remains some way short of the 25 year maximum term of protection available for UK and EU designs, it is nevertheless a positive change which may indicate China’s intentions to participate in the “Hague System” which allows an applicant to secure design protection simultaneously in up to 74 countries or regions via a single international application.


This welcome development brings Chinese design laws into closer alignment with corresponding design laws in the United Kingdom and the European Union.  It provides users of the Chinese design system with greater flexibility, potentially stronger rights, and a cost-effective and attractive alternative – or adjunct to – Chinese patent protection.


How can you benefit?

To discuss your strategy for design protection in China and worldwide, contact our design specialist, Steven McIlroy.

T. 0141 375 7575


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