On March 17th 2018, China’s Congress adopted a plan to overhaul IP-related government bodies.

As of today, patents, trademarks and geographical indications each have their own government body for management of applications, grants and administrative adjudications (respectively SIPO, CTMO/TRAB and AQSIQ).

Pursuant to the plan adopted, the bodies previously in charge of trademarks and geographical indications will lie within the competence of the SIPO. The AQSIQ and the SAIC, which is currently supervising both the CTMO and TRAB, will be disbanded. As a result, the SIPO will be a unified office for industrial property rights, like in neighboring Japan and South Korea. The date of entry into force should be by the end of 2018.

Previously a direct subordinate to the State Council, the SIPO will upon this reform report to the newly established State Administration for Market Supervision (SAMS). The plan did not address changes with respect to the NCAC, the body responsible for copyright, though.

This major reform is intended to streamline the management of industrial property rights. It highlights the Chinese authorities’ efforts to enhance their IP management system beyond international agreements on the subject.