The 3 different types of patents, invention, utility and design patents, are granted by the SIPO (State Intellectual Property Office).
The invention patent, valid for 20 years from registration date, is used for technology innovations. After this period of time, the patented invention belongs to the public domain.
The utility model patent, valid for 10 years, is granted for new technical solutions relating to the shape and/or structure of an object. In general, the degree of invention required for a utility model patent is lower than for invention patents.
The design patent, also valid for 10 years, is granted for original designs relating to the shape, pattern, colour or a combination of an object.
Keep in mind that foreign patented inventions are not automatically protected in China. Protection is only secured, if the patent is also granted in China.