As per the Chinese law, convicts can get out of prison early if they come up with important technical innovations. However, well-off inmates who have no original ideas of their own are taking advantage of the legal system by paying money for other inventors' creations and patenting them, according to the Beijing Youth Daily.
The newspaper sent one of its reporters to a prison, undercover, and found out that the scheme is now being openly advertised in jails – sort of like an underground market.
“We have carried out this sentence reducing service many times in Shaanxi. You can trust us,” an agent told the reporter. “Some rich people come to us right after they get into trouble and before they go to jail. It takes a lot of early preparation.”
The starting price of the service is around 6,800 yuan ($1,100), but more complex patents can cost up to 60,000 yuan ($10,000).
One of the most prominent prisoners who received a sentence reduction via patents is Nan Yong, former vice chairman of China’s national soccer association. He had been sentenced for 10 years and six months for corruption and match fixing in 2012.
However, when Nan “rejuvenated himself as an inventor and writer,” and reportedly had four devices patented by the State Intellectual Property Office, his term was reduced by one year last December.