Shui Li is Corporate Counsel of Cloud +AI for Microsoft. Previously, she was an intellectual property lawyer with Robins Kaplan. Her experience is in cross-border disputes, and she has worked with a variety of technology industries, including medicinal chemistry, biotechnology, video streaming, telecommunication, and semiconductors.
Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM, is a subset of herbal medicine. TCM patent applications generally fall into four categories. A Compound formula is the predominant type of patent application in the field of Chinese medicine. This is not surprising because most TCM combines two or more medicinal materials to be effective. Medicinal craft refers to active ingredients extracted from medicinal materials using a specialized process, or the specialized process itself. Medicinal materials refer to the original medicinal materials used in the preparation of Chinese medicines. Some of these original medicinal materials are the whole plant or a certain part of the plant, and some need to be processed. Related products refer to non-medicinal products containing Chinese medicines, including medicated foods, namely functional foods, health products and cosmetics containing Chinese medicines. These categories reflect the main objectives of TCM patent protection: namely, to protect the formula, craft, original materials, and commercial products.
Acquiring intellectual property from China has just become more complicated because of China’s Export Control Law. On October 17, 2020, the Standing Committee of China’s legislature, the National People’s Congress (NPC), passed the Export Control Law of the People’s Republic of China, which went into effect on December 1, 2020. The Export Control Law applies to, among other things, “dual-use items” and “goods, technologies, services and items relating to the maintenance of national security and national interests.” ([Official Chinese text]; [Unofficial English translation]). These provisions make it likely that cutting-edge technologies China has invested heavily in, such as artificial intelligence and semiconductors, will be subject to China’s export control policy.