This area of activity aims to improve access to information by completing, re-structuring or, alternatively, efficiently link existing IPR information sources in China; and to create an inter-agency on-line platform to facilitate the work of law and policy-makers, IPR agencies and institutions, including customs and police.
For the general public an overview of what is protected and belongs to whom is vital. Absolute rights for intangibles can only be granted if the public is informed about the scope and content of rights. Full and unhindered access to information is an essential requirement for transparency and predictability of any enforcement system. Where intangibles are concerned, only if the owner of a right can be clearly identified and the right he owns as such, can enforcement authorities indeed take action. But the importance of databases goes much beyond this very practical aspect.
Patent databases around the world for example contain 80% of the technical knowledge of today. Access to the data of patent agencies and other related institutions forms the basis of operation of many industries today. Freedom to operate depends on knowledge that is – for a period of time – monopolised. At the same time, access to information can help avoiding duplicating efforts.
The available forms of databases vary worldwide. The European model, most notably technical solutions provided by EPO and OHIM among others, have been widely successful and may serve as a benchmark within their field. As regards enforcement, China has also recently undertaken many efforts, and a varying degree of databases has been created and offered to the public, sometimes for free (see www.ipr.gov.cn).
Within this area of activity, the ultimate objective is to enable and encourage more efficient IPR enforcement through better access to information: on the one side access to information useful for right holders, and on the other side access to information useful for enforcement agencies. These are very different kinds of information, and have very few synergies; the former being within the public domain, and the latter being either mostly confidential (information-sharing between investigative/enforcement agencies for example) or mainly technical (legal case decisions or patent information for example). This will require developing a keen understanding of how information does now and should ultimately support and make more fluid and efficient the enforcement work of IP agencies and right holders throughout China; while also promoting inter-agency (Chinese/Chinese and European/Chinese) communications and cooperation.
View activities and results under Access to Information.
China Virtual Helpdesk
Tips from the European Patent Office on how to search free sources of Chinese patent information:
“In 2006, 210 490 invention patent applications were filed with the Chinese Patent Office, an increase of 21.4 % over 2005.”
The EPO's Virtual Helpdesk site provides further details on filing trends and grant figures in China. It offers background information on the Chinese patent system and guidance on other essentials of Chinese patent documentation.
For more information about the Access to Information Component, please contact Mr Carlo Pandolfi