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IP Court to Provide Stronger Protection

Release time:2022-03-17 14:07:13 source:China Daily Global

The national-level intellectual property court will play a bigger role in handling disputes related to advanced technologies and in tackling monopolistic and anticompetitive behavior, in order to continue its legal protection of innovation and maintain market order, an official said.

Providing stronger protection for intellectual property rights involving core technologies and in new or key fields will be the Intellectual Property Court's next major job, according to Zhou Qiang, president of the Supreme People's Court, China's top court.

Zhou unveiled the plan to lawmakers on Feb 26 while delivering a report on litigation procedure in IPR cases. The report was submitted for review to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the country's top legislative body.

He said that the IP Court, which was set up in Beijing in January 2019 as a division of the Supreme People's Court, would strengthen its work on case hearings related to monopolistic and anti-competitive behavior, in a bid to maintain market order.

"Additionally, we will conduct more research on the extraterritorial application of anti-monopoly laws and provisions, with more participation in IPR international cooperation and competition to better safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests," he added.

The national-level IP Court was established to deal with appeals related to patents, technologies and monopolies. It streamlines the appeals process by allowing litigants who are unhappy with rulings of the intermediate people's court at the city or prefecture level, or by other specialized IP courts, to appeal directly to the nation's top court rather than first appealing to provincial-level courts.

Liu Bin, an IPR lawyer at Beijing Zhongwen Law Firm, said the establishment of the IP Court was a vital step for the country in reforming IPR case-hearing procedures, "and it has also helped prevent inconsistency in terms of the application of laws and improved the quality and efficiency of related trials in the past three years".

"A big challenge of hearing IPR cases involving technologies and patents is to identify whether these are innovative," he said. "Before the IP Court was established, some provincial courts found this difficult, which led to inconsistencies."

Liu highlighted the significance of the IP Court's professionalism in handling such cases, "as enterprises may otherwise lose their competitive edge if their technologies cannot be identified".

Previously, enterprises had to apply for a retrial to the nation's top court if they were not satisfied with rulings made by courts at grassroots and provincial levels, which Liu said was "a waste of legal resources". That problem was overcome after the IP Court streamlined procedures.

The report said that the IP Court has worked effectively over the past three years, filing 9,458 appeals involving technologies and monopolies, with an average annual increase of 49.3 percent.

There was also rapid growth in appeals related to invention patents, indicating that IPR protection is a major issue in technological development, it said.

More than one-fifth of the IPR cases involved new fields, such as new energy, biological medicine and new materials, it said, adding that there was also an increase in foreign-related disputes.

Besides the national-level IP Court, China has four courts that specialize in handling IPR cases at the intermediate level. They are in Beijing and Shanghai as well as Guangdong and Hainan provinces. The specialized courts have made a big contribution to resolving a surge of IPR cases in a more efficient and professional manner.

The establishment of the IPR-related courts has demonstrated the nation's great determination in the fight against IPR violations and crimes. It has also created a better environment for China's high-quality development and technological innovation.

According to the annual work report of the Supreme People's Court last year, Chinese courts concluded some 466,000 IPR cases in 2020, up 11.7 percent year-on-year, with an issue of 10 judicial interpretations and guidelines in this regard.

While reducing the burden of proof for IPR owners and shortening the litigation time of IPR cases, the judicial documents have also lowered the cost of lawsuits and given heavier punishment to IPR violators, the report added.

Piracy and the malicious registration of trademarks, which generated frequent complaints among the public, were targeted, and courts nationwide were urged to give stronger protection to the inventions of scientific researchers as well as the technological innovations of enterprises.

Chinese courts will always serve and promote innovation-driven growth, the report said.

As legal support has grown stronger, the efforts of government agencies in IPR protection have also intensified, further stimulating market vitality.

By the end of last year, Chinese companies held more than 1.9 million valid invention patents, up 22.6 percent year-on-year, according to statistics released in January by the China National Intellectual Property Administration.

Among the patents, 1.21 million came from high-tech enterprises, showing that domestic innovation and creative abilities have become much stronger, the administration said. In addition, the number of patents increased rapidly in three major fields-information technology management, computer technology and medical technology.

Responsible editor:IPC