The China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) announced the latest amendments to the Guidelines for Patent Examination which became effective from on November 1, 2019. The amendments respond to the request of innovative businesses, and aim to improve the quality and efficiency of patent examination. Following are the highlights of the amendments.

Divisional application

The amendments clarify that, only when the examiner raises a unity objection against a divisional application, may the applicant file a further divisional application on the basis of the divisional application, if the earlier divisional application is still pending. Otherwise, a divisional application including a further divisional application can only be filed on the basis of the first-ever application.

The amendments also clarify that the applicant of a further divisional application shall be the same as that of its directly connected divisional application, and that the inventor(s) of the further divisional application shall be from the inventor(s) of its directly connection divisional application.

GUI design registration

It further standardizes the requirements for the title and brief description related to the registration of Graphic User Interfaces (GUI). The title of the GUI design shall indicate the main use of the GUI and the product it applies to. If the GUI is the only innovative point of the design, at least one orthographic projection view of the display panel including the GUI shall be submitted.

If the GUI is animated GUI, at least one orthographic projection view of the side of the product showing one state of the GUI shall be submitted as the front view. For other states, key frames which can uniquely determine the changing sequence of the animation patterns shall be submitted as views of varied states.

The amendments also clarify that game interface as well as patterns displayed upon power on, which have nothing to do with human-machine interaction, are not protected by design patent.

Eligibility of human embryonic stem cells

The amendments clarify that human embryonic stem cells are not human body at all stages of formation and development. The invention which uses stem cells separated from human embryos (with less than 14 days of in vivo development) cannot be rejected on the grounds of "violating social morality".

Delayed examination

An invention patent applicant may file a request for delayed examination at the time of requesting substantive examination; a design patent applicant may file a request for delayed examination at the time of filing the design patent application. The examination may be delayed for one year, two years or three years from the effective date of the request.

Besides the above points and among others, the amendments refines the workflow for patent search, clarify the method of combining multiple prior-art documents in invalidation procedure, show the intention of holding meetings or telephone conversation with attorneys/applicants.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.