Every enterprise doing business in China is strongly advised to make active use of the Chinese patent system. In particular, it is crucial to apply for patent protection in China for each and every innovation, even if a launch of the respective product in the Chinese market is not yet on the horizon. Markets change rapidly, and patent protection has to be requested before the respective product is introduced anywhere on the world. In particular, a European patent has no effect in China.
Many western companies ignored this golden rule, and faced imitations of their technology in the Chinese market later on, resulting in severe financial damage. In the absence of patent protection in China, such imitations are completely legal! These products legally made in China may be eventually shipped to other countries, causing further problems.
Therefore, an active patenting strategy – as part of an overall IP strategy – is a must in China, just like in any Western country.