Pending patent regulation puts more responsibility on platforms
By Wang Hongyi(China Daily )

 Pending patent regulation puts more responsibility on platforms

Alibaba employees pose ahead of the Nov 11 online shopping spree. According to the revised patent regulation of Zhejiang province, e-commerce platforms will be responsible for handling patent infringements. Xu Kangping / For China Daily

As the world's biggest one-day online shopping spree takes place in China on Nov 11, many online shops are concerned that their patented products are being copied by others while consumers are afraid of buying counterfeit goods.

Home to a large number of Internet companies, including the nation's top e-commerce platform Alibaba Group, Zhejiang province will start to implement a revised patent regulation on Jan 1, 2016, which requires e-commerce companies to shoulder the responsibility of dealing with patent infringements.

With the rapid development of e-commerce, online patent infringement disputes are also on the rise, which impacts negatively on patent owners' legal rights and interests and disturbs market order. Zhejiang province has long been a pioneer in patent protection in the e-commerce sector, and released the country's first guidance for e-commerce patent protection.

The new regulation will specify the responsibilities and work procedures for e-commerce platforms to deal with patent infringement and counterfeiting. This means trade platforms will be responsible for solving e-commerce patent infringements.

The pending regulation states that online and TV shopping service providers should improve daily management of their products and services. When patent infringements or counterfeiting are spotted, they should take immediate actions to stop it and report it to the local patent administration.

In addition, county-level patent administrative departments will be given law enforcement powers to improve patent protection. Some departments will be empowered to mediate disputes on patent infringements and investigate cases involving patent counterfeiting, repeated infringements and cases with great impact, according to the regulation.

In 2014, the province handled 2,518 patent disputes in the e-commerce area, accounting for about 90 percent of the total number nationwide. In the first nine months of this year, the province handled 45,000 patent disputes, including those involving the Internet, according to the provincial intellectual property office.

The first edition of the province's patent regulation was issued in 1998, and amended in 2005 and 2011. In the latest version, 25 entries have been revised with 27 new entries added.

Other highlights of the new version include a regulation on the rights of disposal and profiting for a patent's inventor or designer, who will be given the priority in enjoying these rights.

The pending regulation also stipulates county-level governments should regulate the patent trade and auction markets and support patent online trading platforms.

Zhou Guohui, head of the provincial intellectual property office, suggested the government play the roles of "bartender" and "shopkeeper". "The government needs to improve patent services and management in establishing trade markets and an assessment mechanism," he said.

According to a report by the State Intellectual Property Office, Zhejiang's intellectual property development comprehensive index and patent comprehensive strength ranked fourth in China in 2014. Zhejiang companies and individuals filed 261,000 patent applications, and were granted 188,000 patents that year.

In that year, the province's law enforcement also investigated 3,506 patent-related cases, including 2,963 patent infringement cases, which was the largest number in China.

In the first nine months of this year, 6,601 cases were recorded in the province and 6,170 concluded. More than 1,000 patent civil disputes have been mediated.

The sharply rising number of cases is also a reflection of the province's enhanced efforts in protecting intellectual property rights, Zhou said.

(China Daily 11/11/2015 page17)

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