The market pharmaceutical products in China is now worth more than $120 billion, second only to America’s. China imported more than $55 billion worth of drugs last year, and these numbers are expected only to grow as the population ages. In spite of the increase in the number of patented drugs in the pharmaceutical industry in China, patents have made relatively low contribution to the industrial values.
The IP held by Chinese firms is less competitive compared with that of foreign companies. While companies from the U.S. have consistently filed more international patent applications under the Patent Cooperation Treaty than companies from other countries, they have been filing only half as many patent applications in China as their Japanese counterparts.
Pharmaceutical Trademarks Regulators in China–
In China, pharmaceutical trademarks are regulated by both the pharmaceutical law and trademark law. Pharmaceutical generic names are prohibited to be registered as trademarks as per Article 11 of the PRC Trademark Law, but only those distinctive pharmaceutical names can be registered as trademarks. Biotechnology companies need to pay close attention to this disclosure requirement because failure to comply could result in either the denial or invalidation of a Chinese patent. It should be noted that there is no equivalent requirement in the patent laws of Europe, Japan, or the United States.
Quick Overview of Pharma IP Law of China–
A pharmaceutical trademark should not conflict with another’s pre-existing copyright, trademark right or any other interests protected by Chinese law. According to the relevant law, the registration of pharmaceutical trademarks has numerous restrictions. Pharmaceutical trademarks should have distinctive features and must not conflict with any pre-existing lawful rights of others in order to qualify for registration.
The Opportunities of China’s Pharmaceutical Market–
China’s pharmaceutical market is a multi-billion-dollar sector with substantial amounts of drugs imported. With an ageing population and Beijing also looking to remove import tariffs on commonly imported drugs, such as cancer drugs, this market is expected to grow. Potential pharmaceutical investment opportunities in China may involve more complexity than opportunities in countries with longer histories of partnerships with U.S. businesses, but opportunities in China represent tremendous potential.
However, the reports are, as of yet, unconfirmed and the new rules appear to be conditional, raising some questions over how the news will be perceived globally. China’s current Patent Law, promulgated in 1992, treats pharmaceuticals like any other patentable item. Nevertheless, the categories “methods of treatment of diseases” and “scientific discoveries” are still prohibited from patent protection.