Why ICP Certification is a Valuable Business Aspect in China

Internet Content Provider (ICP) certification is a permit issued by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) to certify a website domain to be hosted lawfully on a server of CDN located in Mainland China. This license is really important for the US and European companies willing to have a web presence in China.

China WFOE is not the ticket to China ICP license

Foreign businesses will not get a legitimate Chinese hosting company that will allow them to put their website on their servers without the ICP certification. There is a common misconception among the foreign companies that having a China WFOE is their ticket to a China ICP license. According to the China tech lawyers, securing an ICP license has little connection with the China WFOE. Foreign companies may have to essentially start at square one on the ICP issue.

Two types of ICP licenses are issued by MIIT:

ICP Filing (for non-commercial websites) – Also known in Chinese as “ICP Bei’An”, an ICP filing is required for websites that are purely informational and do not engage in online retail activities. These numbers follow the format 京ICP备12345678 (in this example, “京” represents Beijing).

ICP License (for commercial websites) – Also known as “ICP Zheng” in Chinese, an ICP license is required for websites that engage in online retail activities. This license allows you to sell goods and accept online payment from users in Mainland China. These numbers follow the format 京ICP证12345678号 (in this example, “京” represents Beijing).

What Are The Steps To Get An ICP License?

Applying for an ICP license is important for any foreign company that wants to establish a China-based website to build its business or do e-commerce in China.

  1. Register a domain in China and buy a hosting plan.
  2. Get your Bei An service number.
  3. Register for the Aliyun ICP Management System.
  4. Log in to the Aliyun ICP Management System and fill out the registration form.
  5. Submit your documents for Aliyun’s approval.
  6. Submit a recent picture of yourself.
  7. Wait for MIIT to approve.

The risk of not having an ICP license

Without the proper ICP registration, your domain runs the risk of being shut down and blacklisted by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) for not abiding the Chinese content laws.

The best way to apply for an ICP license is to go through the hosting company that you are using. All hosting companies in China provide the ICP license application service.

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Procedural Mechanism of Patent Prosecution Highway

In order to expedite examination of invention patent applications, Chinese government has implemented a Patent Prosecution Highway program way back in 2011. It is an agreement among the patent administrative authorities of 19 countries with China to accelerate patent prosecution procedures. Under this mechanism, once a patent office of the original application or of earlier examination decides to approve for patent, the corresponding application, upon request of the applicant, may be admitted into such accelerated examination mechanism in another participating patent office under certain conditions.

Basic idea of PPH

It is a way of simplifying Patent Prosecution and reducing the timeline for providing Patent rights and eliminating any waste of effort and time. An applicant can take advantage of a favorable prior opinion issued on the same claims filed with the USPTO by filing a PPH request prior to the commencement of substantive examination. If one foreign office believes that the claim has at least some merit, the Patent Prosecution Highway speeds the application along in other participating nations. Patent officers can work more quickly than usual because they’re able to use the same search and examination results that a foreign office used in its ruling. In other words, the Patent Prosecution Highway prevents multiple countries from duplicating the same work.

The Filing Process of PPH

China currently has 20 PPH programs with almost all the major patent offices in the world, including the most-often used IP5 PPH program among China, the United States, Europe, Japan and Korea. It also accepts a PPH request based on the positive Written Opinion or International Preliminary Examination Report made by an International Search Authority or Preliminary Examination Authority. Applicants can file a request under the SIPO-Office of First Filing (“OFF”) PPH agreement based on an OFF application, if the SIPO application is (a) a direct entry under the Paris Convention or a PCT national phase application, and also (b) has at least one or more claims found to be allowable by the OFF. The SIPO application must have been published, the request for examination must have been made and the SIPO must not yet have begun examination at the time of the PPH request.

U.S.-based inventors filed the greatest number of PCT patent applications in 2018, trailed closely by China, which is expected to surpass the U.S. within the next two years on current trends. China is the second largest source of PCT applications, overtaking Japan, with Chinese tech firms Huawei and ZTE, topping the PCT filing charts. China is the only country, among the top 15 PCT filing countries of 2017, to have consistently posted more than 10% growth in the number of PCT applications filed every year since 2003.

PPH offers a lot of benefits to patent applicants such as

  • Accelerated Examination
  • Enhanced Certainty
  • Reduced Prosecution Cost
  • Higher Granting Rates

The Chinese application is a divisional application of a CN patent application claiming the priority of the Japanese, US, German, Korean, Russian, Finnish, Danish, Austrian, Mexican, Polish, Canadian, Singaporean, Portuguese, Spanish, European, British, Icelandic, Swedish, or Israeli application.

Final Thoughts

The aim of the Patent Highways is to improve patent quality and reduce the examination workload through faster procedures. The key to getting your application accepted into the PPH is to make sure the claims in the China patent application corresponding to the allowed claims in the foreign case.

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