It sounds like something out of the boardgame Monopoly… According to Chinese law, prisoners can reduce their sentences by creating a new invention.
Not surprisingly, wealthy convicts have been exploiting this “loophole” by getting someone else to be the creative genius.
In fact, there are several intellectual property agents that advertize a cash service for inventive inmates, according to the Beijing Youth Daily.
A basic patent costs $6,800 (about $1,000), while a more detailed one is worth around 50,000 yuan or more (about $9,000).
Working undercover, the Daily‘s reporter spoke with an agent called Liu who said: “We’ve done a lot of patent commutations in Shaanxi. You can rest assured.
Some of the rich ones contact us when they get into trouble, so we can start preparations before jail time begins.
Nan Yong, ex-chief of the Chinese Soccer Association, was jailed for over 10 years for bribery and match fixing in 2012, but had his sentence reduced by a year after he wrote a science fiction novel, and got four patents, including two soccer training devices: A cheap portable goal, and pressure-sensing pads to measure a shot’s power.
Similarly, Liang Jianxing, once a Health Bureau chief in Zhejiang Province, got eight years for bribery in 2008, but had his sentenced reduced by over a year after he made 11 inventions, including “smog nose plugs.”
Anyone who does pay to get out of jail this way better watch out though, because the law requires that it be one’s own invention, so technically speaking that’s fraud!
Research by Mona