China Targets Less Than 16-Month Pendency for Invention Patents by End of 2023

The Work Guidelines demonstrate China’s commitment to enhancing its intellectual property system.

Image credit: Michael Wu

China is pushing to speed up the examination of invention patent applications. According to the latest “Work Guidelines” issued by the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) on February 22, 2023, the agency intends to reduce the average time from the patent application filing date to the date the application has reached final disposition (e.g., issued as a patent or abandoned), known as total pendency, to 16 months or less by the end of 2023.

The CNIPA notice did not disclose the current pendency period for invention patents. However, according to a similar release from two years ago, the average pendency by the end of 2020 was 20 months. The CNIPA aimed to reduce that to 18.5 months in 2021. The CNIPA likely achieved this goal in 2021 and made further progress in 2022 despite facing various challenges.

By comparison, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) currently reports an average total pendency of 25.9 months as of February 2023. The number was 23.4 months in mid-2020, highlighting how application backlogs have increased over the past two years in the U.S.

The CNIPA “Work Guidelines” also outline a series of performance targets and metrics for improving patent quality and reducing trademark application backlogs. In addition to faster invention patent examination, the CNIPA aims to increase the “accuracy rate” of final dispositions to over 93%, and keep trademark application pendency to within 7 months on average, with a 97% pass rate for substantive examination spot checks.

The guidelines demonstrate China’s commitment to enhancing its intellectual property system. If achieved, a sub-16-month average pendency for invention patents would likely propel China into one of the fastest IP offices in the world. The targets set an ambitious course for the CNIPA the remainder of the year.

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