By P.T. Bangsberg, The Journal of Commerce Knight-Ridder/Tribune Business News

HONG KONG--Mar. 30--Further changes are promised to China's patent laws to broaden their scope and anticipate new developments. Provisions covering agricultural seeds - an often contentious issue in developing countries - are being drafted and others will follow, said Gao Lulin, director-general of the Patent Office.

This will be the second revamp since China introduced a patent law in 1984. The first, in 1993, extended coverage to pharmaceutical and chemical products.

Mr. Gao's office has also submitted proposals on implementation of patent regulations to the State Council, China's equivalent of a Cabinet, for consideration. They include stiffer administrative penalties for infringement and increased powers to investigate and seize fake products.

China says it doesn't have enough qualified people to enforce patent protection. The number of applications and approvals from both domestic and overseas firms has been rising rapidly.

The patent office hopes to create an intellectual property rights training center jointly with other government agencies.

``The center has gained approval from the State Council. It is to be built in accordance with international standards, with mock courts and courses in English,'' Mr. Gao said.

In addition to patents, the curriculum will include trademarks and copyrights, he said. Those attending are expected to be mainly directors and senior staff of Chinese firms and research institutes.

Mr. Gao said about 10 million yuan (US$1.15 million) will be invested in the training center annually beginning this year. As much as 300 million yuan is earmarked for computers and other technology to ``establish an advanced electronic library on patents'' over the next few years, he said.

China recorded more than 77,000 patent applications last year, ranking it about 10th in the world, official figures show. Nearly 10,000 were from overseas, an increase of 9.8 percent on the 1993 level.

Approvals since the law took effect in 1984 include some 59,000 from overseas. Japan, the United States and Germany are the leading foreign holders of Chinese patents.

By the end of last year, China had also registered 460,000 trademarks, up 13 percent from the end-1993 figure, of which 70,000 are held by overseas companies.

Separately, Jiang Ying, deputy director-general of the Patent Office, said China intends to apply to the World Intellectual Property Organization for entry into the Budapest Protocol.

Joining this protocol, ``an important international agreement on protection of intellectual property rights, will make China's cooperation with the world community closer,'' she told an international symposium in Beijing. END!A9?JC-CHINA-PATENTS

AP-NY-03-29-95 1924EST

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