China’s National Intellectual Property Administration (NIPA) has issued trial measures outlining how acts of “serious untrustworthiness” — like patent infringement, fraud by patent agents, and providing false documents during patent applications — will be recorded in violators’ social credit files. The measures go into effect December 1, 2019.
This isn’t the first time patent violations have been tied to social credit. The specific offenses that can result in blacklisting, the punishments for those violations, and the state bodies responsible for meting out those punishments, were already outlined in a document (PDF) released at the end of 2018.
By contrast, these newer measures are more focused on the administrative end of implementation — how long blacklisting lasts, for example, and how to apply for removal from a patent blacklist. The release points to the same thing that many recent SCS policy releases do: a major cross-agency push to solidify the regulatory framework and administrative procedures that underpin the social credit system — many state agencies are issuing similar procedural policies.
So, how does blacklisting last for patent offenses?
- Blacklisting for patent violations (and the administrative penalties associated with those violations) lasts, by default, for three years
- If the blacklisted person or entity actively takes steps to correct the violation, they can apply for removal from the blacklist after one year
- In cases where the blacklisted party re-offends, or if the offense seriously endangered public safety or national security, blacklisting is permanent
What this means for China and IP
This looks like it points to yet another regulatory crackdown on intellectual property infringement, but practically speaking, we’re not sure how effective this will be. There is nothing in this policy that changes the way patent or copyright violations are investigated or determined. It doesn’t make catching or prosecuting patent infringers any easier, it simply (like most social credit policies) adds an additional level of severity to the ramifications of being found in violation.