Chinese intellectual property professionals applauded the country's ongoing negotiation to join the Hague Agreement regarding industrial design, which is seen as a crucial step to show China's commitment to intellectual property protection.
"Joining the international agreement means our protection of patents should be further intensified or, more precisely, it means the length of the time that we protect industrial design patents must be extended," Ma Yide, an IP professor from Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, said on Sunday.
"The extension will be beneficial for patent owners and also help our country's patent protection align with international norms."
His remarks came as Shen Changyu, director of the National Intellectual Property Administration, said at the opening of the 15th China (Wuxi) International Design Expo on Saturday that China is negotiating with the World Intellectual Property Organization to join the agreement.
Shen said that by joining the system Chinese companies will have better protections for their own industrial designs, and Made in China products can better integrate into the global market.
The Hague Agreement for the international registration of industrial designs, a mechanism aimed at intellectual property protection, currently has 70 contracting parties worldwide. An industrial design will be protected by all contracting parties through a single application.
Gao Xiaoli, a Beijing lawyer specializing in patent-related cases, said it would be good news for Chinese individuals and enterprises with industrial design patents if China were to join the agreement.
It requires each contracting party to protect industrial design patents for at least 15 years－"which is longer than the 10 years of protection in our country", she said. "The longer a patent is protected, the more benefits the patent owners will have."
China has now begun the steps required to join, including amending its laws. For example, a draft amendment of the Patent Law extends industrial design patent protection to 15 years from 10 years.
The draft was submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the country's top legislature, for its first review in December. In general, a draft needs to be reviewed three times before becoming law.
"China has also begun improving the quality of patents in light of the rapid growth of applications in recent years. It aims to better protect IP rights by making strict demands on itself," Gao said.