Until now, it has not been possible to register parts of products as designs in China. However, from 1 June 2021, this will be possible, making China a much more attractive venue for designers to register intellectual property in their products’ aesthetics.

Partial Designs

Previously, Chinese design law excluded the protection of partial designs, i.e. portions of a product that cannot be partitioned or sold and used independently. Instead, designs could only be registered for the appearance of a product in its entirety.

However, the registration of partial designs will be allowed in China after 1 June 2021

In order to register partial designs, the design application should contain drawings of the whole product with:

  • parts to be protected in solid lines; and
  • parts not to be protected in dashed lines.

The parts of the product intended to be protected by the applicant can also be explained or clarified in the brief description which accompanies the design drawings in the application.

Design Registration in China

This change makes China an even more attractive forum in which designers may secure registered intellectual property rights for the appearances of their products.

Although China is not currently part of the Hague System for the International Registration of Industrial Designs, the process of obtaining a design registration is relatively straight-forward, particularly compared to the process of obtaining patent protection.

Design applications are not examined on substantive grounds by the China National Intellectual Property Administration and there is no opposition period prior to registration. Similarly to the UK and EU, applications are only examined for formal requirements and the validity of the design registration is only determined in the event that the owner wishes to enforce it against an alleged infringer.

While Chinese design applications can generally only relate to a single design, products in a set can be registered in the same application. For this, the designs must belong to the same subclass, must be sold and used at the same time and must have the same “designing concept”. This is different to the UK and EU where applicants may include separate, unrelated designs in the same application.

The registration remains in force for 10 years from the filing date of the registered design application, subject to the payment of annual renewal fees. It should be noted that this is significantly shorter than the maximum term for registered design protection in the UK and EU (which is 25 years).

If you would like further information about protecting designs in China or any other jurisdictions, then please contact your usual Schlich attorney or contact us at

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Our news articles are for general information only. They should not be considered specific legal advice, which is available on request.

Our articles are for general information only. They should not be considered specific legal advice, which is available upon request. All information in our articles is considered to be accurate at the date of publishing.

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