Dr. Jacqueline Lui and Ms. Yolanda Wang, colleagues at Eagle IP Ltd., were kind enough to share a guest article comparing Invention patents and Utility model patents in China. For convenience, they also included a useful table summarizing the differences between the two processes:
There are two types of patent protection in China. Invention patents have a term of 20 years and may be granted for both methods and products. Utility model patents (similar to a petty patent) may be granted in China for technical solutions that relate to shapes or structures, and have a term of 10 years from the date of filing. Utility model (UM) applications are subjected only to novelty assessment and formality examination. Invention patent applications are subjected to search and examination similar to those conducted in other major patent offices in the world and it will take approximately 3 to 5 years to complete prosecution.