For enterprises operating in the Chinese market, one key link in a patent offence and defence strategy is the discovery of key patents of a competitor to avoid the risk of infringement or to set such key patents as targets for attack in order to one-up the rights holder.
With the development of network technologies and the increasing degree to which patent examination, invalidation and litigation cases are open to the public, patent-related information is more easily available than ever and plays a practical role in patent offence and defence. The term “key patent” relates to a patent that has major commercial value for the patent holder, and how to use existing patent data to identify effectively key patents among the several million Chinese patents disclosed every year is a difficult problem.
The main sources of patent data include the data publicly available from government authorities and that from commercial data analysis firms. The former is usually patent information mainly disclosed by administrative and judicial authorities at various levels (e.g., disclosure on the State Intellectual Property Office’s official website and on China IPR Judgements & Decisions Online of the Supreme Court). This data has undergone little processing and the search and statistical functions are limited, but it is more updated and has wide coverage. While the patent data that commercial data firms offer has undergone extensive processing and organization, the searchable and usable information is much more plentiful.
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Li Hui is a partner and patent attorney at Sanyou Intellectual Property Agency