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At the 13th National People’s Congress meeting, a substantial institutional reform plan of the State Council was introduced for more streamlined structure and higher efficiency of China’s cabinet. The reform was passed on 17 March 2018, which brought about significant changes within the State Council including the establishment of the new State Administration for Market Regulation (“SAMR”) (国家市场监督管理总局).
The former State Administration for Industry and Commerce no longer retained
The new SAMR takes over and consolidates i) the industry and commerce responsibilities of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (“SAIC”) (国家工商行政管理总局); ii) the quality supervision functions of Administration of Quality Supervision Inspection and Quarantine (“AQSIQ”) (国家质检总局); and 3) the food and drug responsibilities of the State Food and Drug Administration (“SFDA”) (国家食品药品监督管理总局). After the reform, the SAIC, AQSIQ and SFDA are no longer retained.
Anti-trust law enforcement duties consolidated
Anti-trust law enforcement duties, which were previously divided amongst three units, namely 1) the National Development and Reform Commission (国家发改委)- Price Supervision and Anti Monopoly Bureau; 2) Anti Monopoly Bureau of the Ministry of Commerce (商务部); and 3) the work of the Anti-Trust Commission Office under the State Council (国务院反垄断委员会办公室) are consolidated under the umbrella of the SAMR. The long term goal of the SAMR is to lay down and implement a single set of implementing rules and guidelines for the enforcement of the Anti-trust law.
The reorganised State Intellectual Property Office
Another important feature of the SAMR is to lead the re-organised State Intellectual Property Office (“SIPO”)( 国家知识产权局). While the new SIPO would retain previous responsibilities on Patent prosecution and enforcement, the Office will also take up the trademark management and administration duties from the former SAIC as well as the administration of geographic indications of origin from the previous AQSIQ.
The reorganised SIPO aim to enhance IP protection, efficiency of the process and facilitate unified enforcement standards for higher effectiveness of enforcement actions.
On the other hand, copyright related issues will continue to be handled by the National Copyright Administration, which will now be under the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China under the name of National Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television Bureau (National Copyright Administration).
Implementation of the new SAMR
In an interview with the head of SAMR, Zhang Mao (also the previous head of SAIC) in late April, the leader indicated that a reform committee working group was set up to focus on timely implementation of the reform plan.
Further, Zhang incidated that SAMR’s top priority in terms of IP protection would be to improve the accessability and efficiency of the trademark registration process, to shorten the trademark examination time frame from 8 months to 6 months. Zhang is also resolved to set up a unified market regulation enforcement team to help increase the efficiency and effectiveness of enforcement of trademark rights, anti-unfair competition actions.
The SAMR has now established its own website at http://samr.saic.gov.cn/, re-directing traffic to the websites of SAIC, AQSIQ and SFDA to this new site. We will continue to post updates on the implementation of this new mega IP market regulation organ in China.
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