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MARCH 2009



Vatican Cheers GM

volume 27 number 3 MARCH 2009 nature biotechnology

China’s top legislature has amended its patent laws in a bid to support domestic innovation and entice foreign biopharma companies to do business in the country. The revised law, passed late last year by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, will take effect on 1 October. The intent is to raise the novelty benchmark by requiring that a patent application must be new worldwide. In the past, patents could be granted as long as the technology was novel in China. The revised law will allow inventors to apply for patents in other countries before obtaining them domestically. They must, however, first get an approval from China’s patent administration department, which will determine whether the invention should be made a ‘national secret’. The development is welcomed by the international patent community, says Michael Vella, head of the Shanghai-based China Intellectual Property Practice. “It is a signal that China’s patent law is increasingly brought into line with international standards.” The revised law should encourage foreign companies to do business with China, says Vella, by increasing patent enforcement. The new law also allows the granting of a compulsory license in cases of national emergency, and includes a provision requesting that patent applicants disclose the source of materials to affirm that they are lawfully obtained. “China will be the first major economic power that requires this,” says Vella.
Jane Qiu