Patent waits set to be shorter for inventors

Local | Jane Cheung 13 Dec 2019

Jane Cheung

A new scheme aimed at simplifying the application acceptance procedure for standard patents from local inventors, which could reduce applications to other patent jurisdictions, will be launched on Thursday.

The existing patent endorsement system in Hong Kong requires applicants to have secured at least one patent issued by mainland, British or European institutions and on average, takes 46 months to be processed by the department.

Thomas Tsang Chi-sham, assistant director of intellectual property (patents and designs), expected the new endorsing system would shorten patent issuing times to two to three years upon application.

"The range of endorsement varies from 10 to 220 months, depending on the nature of the invention," he said. "The process does not entirely depend on the department. It is the strategy of some applicants to lengthen the application as they do not wish to get the patent quickly so they can buy time to perfect their product, explore market opportunities and look for investors."

"But the new system will provide a more convenient path for local enterprises to get patent for their products, especially for SMEs and start-ups that would like to develop in the local market."

Having secured a patent in Hong Kong, the inventor would have the sole right to exclude others from making, using or selling the product during a maximum period of 20 years.

The IP department has also hired a team of six engineering specialists to scrutinize patent applications based on their level of uniqueness and innovation.

Tsang said the department has no experience in endorsing patent applications and had consulted foreign experts to learn about their endorsement systems and practices.

"We have also hired experienced talents from local private institutions to be our patent examiners," he said.

Taking reference from the mainland's National Intellectual Property Administration, Tsang said the department hoped to attract 100 to 200 applications from local SMEs and start-ups every year.

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