1. What are patents?
The application of a patent ensures that the patent owner enjoys the legal right to prevent others from manufacturing, using, selling or importing his patented invention. However, unlike designs, patents registered in Hong Kong cannot protect the visual appearance of the product, such as its design shape, construction patterns, appearance and decoration elements. For people who would like to protect the exterior design features of their products in Hong Kong, they have to apply for registered design and the use of copyright.
Application of patents can be divided into different types, according to the area with which it is registered. In China, application of patents are divided into three types:
1. Invention patents
2. Utility model patents
3. Design patents
The patent types are different in Hong Kong. In Hong Kong, there are only two types of application of patents :
1. Standard patents
2. Short-term patents.
For other countries, they also provide similar patent registrations. Each country has it’s own set of laws governing the application of patents. For more information, feel free to contact our Hong Kong office or visit “www.sipo.gov.cn” for China patent laws and “www.justice.gov.hk” for Hong Kong patent laws.
2. Standard and short-term patents
There are two types of patents in Hong Kong: standard and short-term patents. In Hong Kong, standard patent is renewable annually for a maximum term of 20 years. Short-term patent is effective for a maximum of eight years in Hong Kong.
3. What are the benefits of registering a patent?
1. Registering a patent gives you exclusive right to your product
When your patent registration application is successful, you will be granted a patent certificate. The patent certificate is the best proof that the invention is yours in Hong Kong. This patent certificate you receive after registration is essential and a must-have if you decide to make a complaint to the Legal Advisor of the Trade Development Council Fairs when another trader commit patent infringement against your product.
2. Registering a patent allows you use “HK Patent No….” to protect your product
After your patent application in Hong Kong, you can attach “HK Patent No …. “ on your product and its packaging to show to other companies, traders, or simply customers that this product has registered a patent.
3. Registering a patent gives confidence to your potential customers
When your current or potential customers see that your patent is registered, they know that your company is not copying other products and they can rarely find products the same as yours. This gives confidence to your potential customers and they may more likely purchase your product.
4. The patent is a valuable company asset
Like trademarks, a patent is a very valuable company asset which is very important when the company needs to attract and acquire venture capital and when the company needs valuations in M&A or IPO situations. Therefore, it is very important to apply for patent registration.
4. Is my patent registered in other countries also effective in Hong Kong?
If you wish your patent to be protected in Hong Kong, you need to file a local patent application. Applying for a patent in other countries or in other regions of China does not automatically give you protection in Hong Kong.
5. What are the considerations of applying for a patent?
1. The Patent must be new, capable of mass production and possess an ‘inventive step’
In order to successfully apply for a patent, the invention must be brand new, and is capable of being mass-produced. It is very important that the product can satisfy the ‘novelty’ factor.
2. The new invention must be kept confidential
Even when the invention is new, it must be kept confidential. If it really has to be disclosed to other people, such as the prototype manufacturer, it can only be done under a contract which includes clauses regarding the confidentiality of the invention. If the invention has been exposed, published or disposed before the filing date, it will loose its ‘novelty’ trait and the application for the patent may not be successful.
3. The invention cannot be obvious and foreseeable by related professionals
In order to possess the ‘inventive step’ characteristic, the new invention cannot be seen as obvious or foreseeable by people skilled in the related field.
6. Applying for a standard patent
The grant of a standard patent in Hong Kong is based on the registration of a patent granted by China Patent Office, the United Kingdom Patent Office, or the European Patent Office designating the United Kingdom. These three patent offices are denoted as “designated patent offices”.
6. Applying for a short-term patent
The grant of a short-term patent in Hong Kong is based on a search report carried out by an international searching authority or one of three designated patent offices.
You can file your application in English or in Chinese. However, if the patent is to be applied in China, the patent information and patent menu has to be entered in Chinese.