The city of Hong Kong is located within a special administrative region of China on the eastern Pearl River Delta in South China. The city became a British Colony in the early part of the 19th century until it was transferred to China on July 1, 1997.
After the transfer, the city, ostensibly, maintained a certain degree of autonomy under the Chinese adherence to the "one country, two systems" principle. This has resulted in a rather unusual system that allows a potential patent owner to utilize four different routes to obtain patent protection in Hong Kong.
First, a potential Hong Kong applicant can apply for a patent in China. At some point during the process, the applicant can elect to extend its coverage into China. Then, once the patent issues in China, the patent owner can register the patent in China.
Second, a potential applicant can seek protection through the European Patent Office. Since the United Kingdom is a member of the European Patent Organization, of which the European Patent Office is an organ, the potential applicant can use its European application to obtain protection in Hong Kong.
Third, a potential applicant can seek protection in the United Kingdom through the Intellectual Property Office. Then, if the patent is granted, the potential applicant can extend its protection into Hong Kong.
Finally, a potential applicant can apply directly in Hong Kong. This is a relatively new route in which patent protection can be obtained. It originated in 2019.
The patent protection regime in Hong Kong also provides potential applicants with the ability to obtain “short-term patents” that only exist for eight years. Such patents can be obtained without a substantive examination. Rather, the applications are subject to an examination for informalities.