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China to Amend Patent Guidelines for Blockchain, AI

To supposedly support the uptake of emerging technologies in China, the country’s intellectual property body has announced that some amendments would be made to patent application process related to artificial intelligence, “Internet +”, big data, and blockchain.

Starting from Feb 1, the China National Intellectual Property Administration says the Patent Examination Guidelines would be amended to add a Section 6 to Chapter IX of Part Two to it. According to an article by Aaron Wininger, the Guidelines “covers provisions for the examination of invention patent applications that claim mathematical limitations and business methods”.

The amendment by the state intellectual property office will now include provisions on examination of invention patent applications that include algorithmic features or business rules and method features.

It comes as China’s encryption law became effective on Jan. 1 to regulate government and private uses of cryptography as classified into core, common and commercial categories – core and common cryptography to protect state secret while commercial cryptography is for citizens, legal persons and organizations to ensure the security of cyberspace and information.

Like Facebook which has been showing interest in a stablecoin, China’s exploration of a digital yuan has been a topical issue on how powerful entities want to gain financial control. While it is not clear that this is going to work out and how it is likely to impact most of the existing digital currencies, the fact remains that the coming of China’s proposed digital currency represents many things to different people.

This includes that it has a tendency to change the face of the global economy. Also, as a new form of currency from a large economic state, its prospect could be interesting and scary at the same time. Shared expert views about the currency have suggested that it will grant the Chinese government unfettered access to its citizens’ financial activities and has the tendency to spread the yuan’s accessibility and use quite rapidly on a global scale to a point of competing to usurp the US dollar as a global currency.

Discussions about China’s proposed digital currency following its sudden interest in the blockchain technology is a plus backing existing signs that the emerging technology is here to stay. Since China hinted that its digital currency will start soon, other major economies have indicated their consideration to follow suit.

The amended guidelines state that a claim as whole should be examined and an Examiner should not separate out features directed to a business or algorithmic method. Instead, all the limitations recited in the claims should be taken as a whole, and the technical means involved, the technical problems to be solved, and the technical effects obtained should be considered. It adds that claims relating to abstract algorithms or purely commercial rules and methods that do not contain any technical features should not be granted a patent as such belong to the rules of intellectual activity stipulated in Article 25 (1) (b)1.

The amended guidelines, which provide multiple examples to better understand how the guidelines should be applied, also state that all limitations of a claim should be examined for novelty and inventiveness, even those that are directed to algorithms or business methods.

Preventing blockchain nodes from leaking user privacy data in a blockchain network falls under invention patent application that belongs to the technical solution specified in Article 2 (2) of the Patent Law. It centres on the communication method between blockchain nodes which is expected to serve several purposes aimed at reducing the possibility of nodes leaking private data and to improve the security of data stored in the blockchain. They include determining whether to establish a connection, restricting the nodes that nodes can establish a connection with, and uses technical methods that follow natural laws to obtain the technical effect of secure communication between nodes.

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