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Intellectual Property Protection by Chinese Courts in 2017

Release time:2018-12-14 09:12:13 source:The Supreme People’s Court of The People’s Republic of China

Special Remarks:


This paper is published in both Chinese and English. The Chinese version shall be the authoritative version for interpretation purposes.







I.    Adjudicating according to law, and leveraging the courts as the principal forum for intellectual property protection

II.   Strengthened Adjudication Reform and Innovation to Improve the Intellectual Property Adjudication System

III.  Strengthened supervision and guidance of lower level courts to standardise the judicial practice based on uniform criteria

IV.  Promoting “Sunshine Justice” to Enable Fair and Credible Judicial Protection

V.   Strengthened Management of the Adjudication Team and Advanced development of adjudication capability











In 2017, the People’s Courts have observed the tenets of Xi Jinping’s new era Chinese socialism and used them as guidepost to fully implement the principles of the 18th and 19th Party Congress. They faithfully discharged their duties as endowed by the Constitution, firmly established the four consciousness”, and continued to pursue the overarching plan of the "five in one" development, or integrated economic, political, cultural, social and ecological development and coordinated the advancement of the “four-in-one” strategic requirements development, and ensured focus on achieving the goal of “working hard to ensure that the people perceive fairness and justice in every judicial case.” The People’s Courts have stayed true to their belief in making justice for the people and in delivering fair justice. They have strengthened reform and innovation in intellectual property adjudication, established the notion that protecting intellectual property is protecting innovation, and have leveraged the courts as the principal forum for protecting intellectual property. They have also continued to improve adjudication quality and efficiency, elevated the adjudication team’s quality and capacity and judicial credibility, and optimised the legal environment to promote development of science & technology and encourage innovation. These efforts are integral to their commitment to carrying out the innovation-driven development strategy. The People’s Courts have indeed provided strong judicial guarantee for the achievement of the "two centennial goals”, and for the development of China into a global powerhouse in intellectual property and in science and technology.




I.     Adjudicating according to law, and leveraging the courts as the principal forum for intellectual property protection

Innovation is the primary force that drives development and a strategic underpinning for the development of a modern economic system. Achieving the ambitious goal boils down to innovation; that is, developing China into an intellectual property powerhouse and world-class science and technology power. The past year saw the exponential growth of intellectual property caseload and increase in the number of cases that were of a new genre and that were major and difficult. Although adjudicating intellectual property cases has become more difficult, the People’s Courts have always regarded law enforcement and case operations as their most important responsibility. They have capitalised on the dominant role of courts in providing judicial protection for intellectual property rights, and have, based on civil adjudication, helped develop administrative and criminal adjudication for intellectual property disputes. Indeed, the People’s Courts have succeeded in handling massive number of cases in a fair and highly efficient manner.

In 2017, the People’s Courts accepted a total of 237,242 intellectual property cases, including first instance and second instance cases and applications for extraordinary legal remedy to reopen cases, and concluded 225,678 cases (including carried forward cases), representing a respective year-on-year increase of 33.50% and 31.43%.


(1)       Effective civil adjudication to curb infringement of intellectual property rights

The People’s Courts exploited the unique advantages of judicial protection of intellectual property to drive innovation, realise creative potentials and encourage entrepreneurship by strengthening adjudication of civil intellectual property cases, increasing protection of creative output, and taking concrete steps to preserve the fair play needed in a market economy.

In 2017, the local people’s courts accepted201,039 and concluded 192,938civil intellectual property cases of first instance, and the respective year-on-year increases were 47.24% and 46.37%. Among the newly accepted cases, 16,010were patent cases, an increase of 29.56% from last year;37,946 trademark cases, which increased by 39.58%; 137,267copyright cases, a 57.80% increase; 2,098 technology contracts-related cases, a 12.62% decrease; 2,543 unfair competition cases (including 114 monopoly cases), a 11.24% increase. Other intellectual property disputes constitute 5,175 cases, a 2.60% decrease from last year.

The local people’s courts accepted 21,818(4.92% year-on-year increase) and concluded20,525 (0.94% year-on-year increase) civil intellectual property cases of second instance. For extraordinary legal remedies to reopen cases terminated by a final judgement (zaishen), the local people’s courts accepted 77 cases and concluded 55 cases, representing a decrease of 2.5% and 35.29% respectively.

In the same year, the Supreme People’s Court accepted 503 new cases(36.31%year-on-year increase) and concluded 493 cases (28.72%year-on-year increase). Of the newly accepted cases, 15 were second instance cases and 452 were reopened cases (41.69% year-on-year increase); of the concluded cases, 13 were second instance cases, and 442 were reopened cases (33.53% year-on-year increase); certiorari (tishen) cases constituted 21 of the newly accepted cases and 21 concluded cases.

High profile civil intellectual property cases heard by the people’s courts during the year include:

Guangzhou Pharmaceutical Holdings Ltd (plaintiff, appellant) vs. Jiaduobao (China) Drink Co., Ltd(defendant, appellee) involving unauthorised use of the unique packaging design of a famous product; Fuzhou Rice Mill(plaintiff, appellee, petitioner) vs. Wuchang City Jinfutai Agriculture Co., Ltd(defendant, appellant, respondent) involving infringement of the exclusive use of a registered mark; Jaguar Land Rover Automotive PLC (plaintiff, appellee)vs. Guangdong Fenli Food Co., Ltd (defendant, appellant); Shen Weining et al.(plaintiff, appellant) vs. Nanjing Classic Auction Co., Ltd et al. (defendant, appellee) involving a dispute on copyright ownership and copyright infringement; Commercial Press (plaintiff) vs. Sinolingua Co., Ltd (defendant) involving trademark infringement and unfair competition; Sichuan Zhongzheng Science And Technology Co., Ltd (plaintiff, appellee) vs. Guangxi Autonomous Region Bobai County Agricultural Research Institute(defendant, appellant) involving infringement of plant variety; Hebi Fanguang Material Co., Ltd (plaintiff, appellant) vs. Song Junchao, Li Jianfa and Hebi Ruimingte Technology Co., Ltd(defendant, appellee)involving infringement of trade secrets.


(2)     Effective administrative adjudication and to enable administration of intellectual property according to law

The People’s Courts have advanced in all aspects the fundamental strategy of ruling according to law and applied the amended Administrative Litigation Law to strengthen judicial review of the granting and validation of intellectual property rights and judicial supervision of administrative law enforcement. The courts have also imposed rigorous discipline in administrative law enforcement of intellectual property cases to support, supervise and advance “administering according to law (yifaxingzheng)”.

In 2017, the local people’s courts accepted 8,820 administrative intellectual property cases of first instance, 22.74% more than last year. Specifically, 872 were patent cases (22.35% year-on-year decrease), 7,931 trademark cases (32.40% year-on-year increase) and17 copyright cases (45.95% year-on-year decrease). 6,250 first instance cases were concluded, 2.24% more than last year. 882 administrative intellectual property cases of second instance were accepted by the local people’s courts, and the number of concluded cases totalled 1,146, of which, the courts upheld the decisions of 964 cases, amended the first instance judgement for 150 cases, remanded 5 cases for retrial, dismissed 1 case, overruled the decision in 1 case, and disposed of 2 cases through other methods.

For the Supreme People’s Court, it accepted 391 and concluded 412 administrative intellectual property cases, which represent an increase of 10.14% and 17.05% respectively. Specifically, 346 cases were reopened (22.70% year-on-year increase) and 366 concluded (29.33% year-on-year increase);35 certiorari cases were accepted and 37 concluded.

High profile administrative intellectual property cases heard by the people’s courts during the past year include:

Dispute concerning the administrative decision on the patent dispute Henan Xixia Longcheng Special Materials Co., Ltd(plaintiff, appellant, petitioner)vs. Yulin Intellectual Property Office(defendant, appellee, respondent) and Shaanxi Coal Industry Chemical Group Shenmu Tianyuan Chemical Co., Ltd (defendant, appellee, respondent);Beijing Wansheng Drug Co., Ltd (defendant, appellee)vs. Patent Re-examination Board of the State Intellectual Property Office(appellee) and Dai-ichi Sankyo Co., Ltd (plaintiff, appellant) concerning the invalidation of inventive patent; Michael Jordan(plaintiff, appellant, petitioner) vs. Trademark Review & Adjudication Board (defendant, appellee) and Qiaodan Sports Co., Ltd (third party) involving an administrative dispute ontrademark rights; Sichuan Yibin Wuliangye Group Co., Ltd (plaintiff, appellee) vs. Trademark Appeals Board of the State Administration of Industry and Commerce(defendant, appellant) and Gansu Binhe Food Industry (Group) Co. Ltd (third party, appellant) involving an administrative dispute on trademark opposition; Sensormatic Electronics Corporation(plaintiff, appellant, petitioner) vs. Patent Re-examination Board of the State Intellectual Property Office(defendant, appellee, respondent) and Ningbo Xunqiang Electronic Technology Co., Ltd (third party) involving an administrative dispute over the invalidation of an invention patent.


(3)       Effective criminal adjudication to punish crimes against intellectual property

The People’s Courts have observed the over-arching need to build a safe China with law-based governance and to perform their essential duties to maintain political security and social stability, and to promote social equity and justice and ensure that the people live peacefully and work happily. They have continued to hit hard at intellectual property crimes and imposed rigorous penalties on according to law, using the law as an effective legal deterrence and to protect the lawful rights of the owners of intellectual property.

In 2017, the local people’s courts accepted 3,621 intellectual property-related criminal cases of first instance, 4.69% lower than last year. Among the accepted cases, 3,425were related to the crime of infringement of registered trademarks (3.93% year-on-year decrease), and 169 were copyright infringement crimes (13.33% year-on-year decrease).

The local peoples’ courts concluded a total of 3.642 intellectual property-related criminal cases of first instance, 6.69% lower than last year.1,100 cases involved manufacturing and selling counterfeit or substandard goods, a decrease of 61.47% from last year. Of the concluded first instance cases, 1687 cases were related to counterfeiting of registered trademarks, 5.91% lower than last year; 1,494 cases involved selling goods bearing counterfeit registered trademarks, 3.18% lower than last years; 260 were cases of illegally manufacturing or selling illegally manufactured registered trademarks, 16.40% lower than last year; 4 were cases involving counterfeiting patents;170cases were related to the crime of copyright infringement, 17.87% lower than last year; 4 cases involved selling infringing reproductions, the same number as last year; and 26 cases involved trade secret infringement crime, 35% lower than last year.[1]

For intellectual property-related criminal cases of second instance, the local people’s courts accepted 533, 32.27% lower than last year; and 540 cases were concluded, representing a decrease of 33.50%.

In the year of 2017, the high profile criminal intellectual property cases heard by the people’s courts include:

Yicha Online Information Technology (Beijing) Co., Ltd and Yu Dong’s copyright infringement; Guoyao Electronics (Hefei) Co., Ltd and Zhong Chuanshuo’s sale of products bearing counterfeit registered trademarks; Chen Yiquan et al.’s trade secret infringement.

In 2017, judicial protection of intellectual property witnessed four key features:

Continued increase in case numbers: In 2017, the number of civil, administrative and criminal intellectual property cases accepted by the People’s Courts increased substantially by 33.5%.

Among all the cities and provinces, Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Guangdong were the five provinces/cities that continued to experience heavy caseloads, with 167,613 newly accepted intellectual property cases, accounting for 70.65% of the total caseload of all the courts. The People’s Courts registered an increase 47.24% first instance intellectual property cases, of which, the Guangdong courts accounted for 58,000 of the newly accepted cases (84.70% year-on-year increase); Beijing accepted 25,932 cases (49.20% year-on-year increase); Shanghai received 14,012 cases (43.17% year-on-year increase). Other provinces also experienced an explosive increase in the number of intellectual property cases of various types. For example, Jilin Province increased by 210.0%; Hunan Province and Fujian Province increased by 73.80% and 73.14% respectively; Inner Mongolia increased by59%. Additionally, the number of intellectual property cases in Anhui Province also multiplied rapidly, increasing by 31.90% from last year; Shandong courts witnessed a 119% increase in first instance cases relating to intellectual property disputes involving foreign parties or foreign matters.


Notable elevation of adjudication impact: As China advances our innovation-driven development strategy, intellectual property is fast becoming the key element and strategic resource that market players rely on to compete in the local and international markets and to build a greater competitive advantage. As such, judicial protection of intellectual property is increasingly becoming an area of extensive focus at home and abroad.

The People’s Courts seized development opportunities, focused on the adjudication practice, and guided development of rules in response to social concerns. For example, in the case of Guangzhou Pharmaceutical Holdings Ltd (plaintiff, appellant) vs. Jiaduobao (China) Drink Co., Ltd (defendant, appellee) involving unauthorised use of the unique trade dress of a famous product, the Supreme People’s Court explicitly pointed out the important contributions of both parties in creating the rights relating to the trade dress of “red can ‘Wong Lo Kat’ or ‘Wanglaoji’ herbal tea”, and that both parties may share the rights to the trade dress of “red can ‘Wong Lo Kat’ or ‘Wanglaoji’ herbal tea”, provided that they do not harm the lawful rights and interests of other persons. Both parties were involved in many disputes involving a broad range of interests and major social consequences. After the court announced its decisions, mainstream media reported on the case and commended on the court’s fair judgement affirmatively, and the public responded positively. The Supreme People’s Court has projected a positive image to locals and foreigners. Both parties also published statements expressing acceptance of the Supreme People’s Court’s decision.

The Beijing courts have heard many high profile intellectual property cases, such as applying the rule of shifting the burden of proof to the defendant who delayed in providing evidence in the “Qianggu ‘墙锢’” trademark infringement dispute, and affirming copyright ownership for works created during a special historical period in the copyright infringement case of the ballet production “Hongse Niangzijun (The Red Detachment of Women)”. The Shanghai Intellectual Property Court heard the copyright licensing dispute of Red 5 Singapore Pte Ltd vs. HQ Link Pte Ltd and Qifei International Development Co. Ltd involving a claim amount of CNY1billion. The court’s decision created an important social impact.


Evident improvement in adjudication quality: First, the number of concluded cases grew significantly. In Jilin Province, the number of intellectual property cases concluded by the local courts increased by 135.00%; the figure was 90.06% in Fujian Province. The number of first instance intellectual property cases that the Guangdong courts disposed of increased by 84.73% compared to last year, and the number of second instance and reopened cases concluded by the Beijing courts increased by 162.50%. In Henan Province, concluded copyright cases increased by 316.35%, and the number of criminal intellectual cases that courts in Tianjin Municipality disposed of increased by 53.6% year-on-year.

Second, the percentage of reopened cases has declined significantly. In 2017, although the number of civil intellectual property cases of first instance concluded by the local courts increased by 43.37%, the rate of reversal of decisions and remanding for retrial at the second instance was 5.33%, which is nearly the same as last year. Reopening rate fell by 37%, and the rate of administrative cases reversed and remanded for retrial at the second instance was 12.04%, which translates to year-on-year decrease of 13.07%.

Third, the rate of post-mediation discontinuance has increased substantially. Shanghai’s rate of post-mediation discontinuance for civil intellectual property cases was as high as 76.31%; Dalian Intermediate People’s Court of Liaoning Province achieved a post-mediation discontinuance rate of 74.53% for intellectual property cases. For first instance civil cases relating to intellectual property dispute, the post-mediation discontinuance rate for Shandong Province’s courts was 63%, and the figure for Jiangxi Province was more than 60%, with zero petition and complaints through the Xinfang (“Letters and Visits”) channel, 56.50% for Xinjiang Autonomous Region, and 53.8%for Heilongjiang Province. For second instance intellectual property cases, the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region achieved 88.46%, and acceptance of the courts’ decisions was 100%; post-mediation discontinuance rate for the Shanxi High People’s Court was 49.3%, accomplishing encouraging social outcomes.


Stronger overall protection: The low damages awarded in intellectual property cases have always been an area of public concern. To address the problem, the Supreme People’s Court has instructed all the courts to calculate damages based on market value, so as to sanction infringers more severely and raise the cost of infringement. The courts have improved their efficiency in providing judicial relief and developed more robust rules for applying injunctive measures, evidence preservation measures and asset preservation measures to facilitate prompt, convenient and effective judicial relief in intellectual property adjudication.

For example, in the case of Sichuan Yibin Wuliangye Group Co., Ltd vs. Xiao Zehao involving trademark infringement, Anhui Province’s Wuhu Intermediate People’s Court calculated the gains from infringement based on the sales quantity, unity price and expenses in the related criminal case of selling fake liquor, and awarded damages of more than CNY13 million, and succeeded in protecting the lawful rights of the intellectual property owners. In Geobrugg Chengdu Engineering Co., Ltd vs. Beijing Diyingte International Trading Co., Ltd, the Beijing Intellectual Property Court deliberated the method of calculating damages and reasonable expenses, and awarded the rights holder CNY6.15 million in damages for economic losses and reasonable expenses. In the unfair competition case of Zhuolu Sports and Culture (Beijing) Co., Ltd et al. vs. Beijing New Match Point Sports Investment Co.,Ltd et al., the Beijing Haidian District People’s Court found that an ex-employee and his new employer had infringed upon the plaintiff’s trade secret and awarded damages of more than CNY 8 million. Henan Province’s courts imposed severe penalties on criminal infringement of intellectual property by sentencing infringers to imprisonment for counterfeiting famous brands and for producing and selling goods associated with the people’s safety and security of property, such as food, seeds, medicines, cigarettes and Chinese wine, and have increased pecuniary punishment within the limits provided by law.


II.            Strengthened Adjudication Reform and Innovation to Improve the Intellectual Property Adjudication System

To implement the innovation-driven strategy and national intellectual property strategy and intensify the creation, protection and application of intellectual property rights, the Central Leading Group for Deepening Overall Reform appointed the Supreme People’s Court to draft the “Opinions on Several Issues Relating to Strengthening Reform and Innovation in Intellectual Property Adjudication”. The Opinions were also issued with the intention to overcome the institutional and mechanistic obstacles that hamper development of intellectual property adjudication, and to leverage the functional roles of intellectual property adjudication in spurring and protecting innovation and in driving technological progress and social development.

On 20 November 2017, General Secretary Xi Jinping presiding over the first meeting of the 19th Central Leading Group for Deepening Overall Reform, and the meeting reviewed and adopted the Opinions. This was the first milestone document issued by the General Office of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council’s General Office that serves as the guidepost specifically for intellectual property adjudication. The Opinions established the guiding ideology, basic principles, reform goals and key measures in intellectual property adjudication for the People’s Courts of the new era, and consolidated the theoretic, institutional and organisational foundations for the intellectual property judicial practice. The splendid blueprint provided by the Opinions for the People’s Courts of the new era will drive the modernisation process of China’s intellectual property adjudication system and adjudication capabilities, which not only serves the practical realities, but are also of far-reaching historical significance.


(1)          Sturdy and effective development of intellectual property courts

Pioneering judicial reform: During the last three years, the Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou intellectual property courts have been creative and innovative, and have achieved substantive breakthroughs. They have carried out the Party Central’s decisions and plans and the National People’s Congress’s decisions, and ensured meaningful and smooth progress in the different aspects of work, with notable results. The work of the three courts proceed in two major dimensions. On the one hand, they adjudicate high profile cases that may have important social impact, and establish decision rules to unify standards and to provide guidance for the development of the justice sector. They have also increased the quantum of damages awarded for intellectual property infringement to improve faith in the litigation system and have won the recognition of the public at large. On the other hand, as pioneers and pathfinders in judicial reform, the courts have implemented the judicial accountability and judges’ quota systems, streamlined the organisation, and instituted a flat management hierarchy. After the reform, the new adjudication system will be a judge-led system with well-defined staff categories, clear accountability and a cooperative team environment. The courts have tested public hearing by their adjudication committees and presidents and division chiefs are hearing cases regularly. To further refine the system, the courts are exploring several other areas: separation of simple cases from complex cases, reform of written judgements and establishing a technical investigator system, and are working hard to accumulate reform experience that is replicable and scalable.

In 2017, the total number of civil and administrative intellectual property cases accepted by the three intellectual property courts was 26,698 cases (54.61% year-on year increase), of which 22,631were concluded (51.93% year-on-year increase). Clearance rate was 84.77%. With the Beijing Intellectual Property Court advancing the development of its case guidance research base, the Shanghai Intellectual Property Court contributing to Shanghai’s development into a technological innovation hub, and the Guangzhou Intellectual Property Court stepping up research in marketising intellectual property rights, the courts have helped establish a new profile for China in intellectual property adjudication practice.


Consolidating insights to chart new developments: The Supreme People’s Court strengthened its leadership, supervision and guidance for the Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou intellectual property courts by studying the difficulties and issues that the courts encounter during reform and development. With the persistence and patience needed to nail nails, the Supreme People’s Court ensured that every task is well-planned and properly carried out with effective results and that it reinforced the achievements of the various intellectual property courts.

On 25 May 2017, the Supreme People’s Court called for the third work seminar of intellectual property courts. During the meeting, the three intellectual property courts reported on their experiences and recommendations, reviewed their observations and results, and analysed the existing problems. It also gave recommendations to improve the intellectual property courts’ existing operations. Vice President Tao Kaiyuan attended and spoke at the meeting. In his speech, he affirmed the results that the three courts have achieved over the past three years, and set forth the goals and direction for the courts for the near term.

On 29 August 2017, at the 29th meeting of the Standing Committee of the 12th National People’s Congress, Chief Justice Zhou Qiang gave a comprehensive report on the progress that the intellectual property courts have made during the past three years. He also identified the problems and difficulties and elaborated on the work measures and recommendations for the subsequent phase of their work.


Studying the possibility of a national-level intellectual property court:As one of the reform programmes for intellectual property courts, the “Appeal System and Mechanism of Intellectual Property Courts” has included studying the necessity and feasibility of setting up a national intellectual property court as a key area of review. Many rounds of surveys and deliberation were conducted to gain further insights into the essential theories relating to the system of intellectual property protection and to provide viable solutions pertaining to the creation of a national intellectual property court. At the third work seminar of intellectual property courts, participants review in great depth the issues relating to the setting up of a national-level intellectual property court. They will continue to debate and deliberate on the topic to provide important bases for the Party Central’s future decision.


(2)        Established specialised intellectual property adjudication institutions with cross-regional jurisdiction

To implement the national intellectual property strategy, optimise the intellectual property jurisdiction structure, and consolidate adjudicative resources, the Supreme People’s Court approved the setting up of specialised intellectual property organs with cross-regional jurisdiction. The eleven cities slated for such cross-jurisdictional adjudication practice are Nanjing, Suzhou, Wuhan, Chengdu, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Hefei, Fuzhou, Jinan, Qingdao and Shenzhen. As at end 2017, all eleven organs were established and in operation. The eleven specialised organs are essential for developing a more robust intellectual property protection system and in unifying decision criteria and adjudication quality in the intellectual property justice system. They are also necessary for maintaining market order and safeguarding the lawful rights of market players, and for carrying out the innovation-driven development strategy.


(3)        Advancing the “three-in-one” reform

Based on the “Supreme People’s Court’s Opinions on Advancing the ‘Three-in-One’ Unified Adjudication of Civil, Administrative and Criminal Intellectual Property Cases”, the “three-in-one” reform endeavour has broken new grounds. The Supreme People’s Court implemented the “three-in-one” system for intellectual property adjudication during the first half of 2017, and all intellectual property-related civil, administrative and criminal adjudication operations have been included in the intellectual property division’s official responsibilities. All high courts have also stepped up efforts to implement the system. Currently, ten provinces and direct-controlled municipalities have mapped out implementation plans and submitted to the Supreme People’s Court for approval, and have preliminarily completed the transfer of operations, resource consolidation, manpower deployment and organisational coordination. For the next step, the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission will coordinate the Supreme People’s Court’s continued communication with the Supreme People’s Procuratorate and the Ministry of Public Security to jointly sign the relevant documents pertaining to judicial protection of criminal intellectual property cases to buttress the effectiveness of the “three-in-one” reform. The courts will also intensify training to nurture a team of judges capable of handling criminal, administrative and civil litigation. 


(4)        Improve on and develop a more robust technical fact-finding mechanism

Based on the completed draft of the “Guidelines and Opinions on the Selection and Appointment of Technical Investigators for Intellectual Property Courts (Provisional)” and other documents released earlier, such as “Provisional Regulations on Several Issues Relating to Technical Investigators of Intellectual Property Courts Participating in Litigation Activities” and the “Regulations on the Jurisdiction of Intellectual Property Courts”, the Supreme People’s Court have established a technical investigator system, refined and improved upon the duties and responsibilities of technical investigators in litigation activities, and established standards for the admission of technical investigation reports.

The Beijing Intellectual Property Court focused on finding technical facts and strengthening the adjudication procedure for technical cases to allow judges to play a primary role in technical fact-finding, and technical investigators to play a key and effective role in finding facts for technical cases. The court is also looking into establishing a procedure for technical investigators to notify the parties through the judge, and studying the appropriate conditions and correct time to make public a technical investigation report. The Beijing intellectual property court has set up a preliminary “resource-sharing” mechanism to share technical investigators between the three levels of courts. In 2017, 33 technical investigators participated in the technical fact-finding of 319 cases.

The Shanghai Intellectual Property Court the rules for the integrated operation of the “four-in-one” investigation and validation system for technical facts. Comprising technical investigation, technical consultation, expert jurors and technical forensic examination, the “four-in-one” system saw the well-ordered exchanges and change-over of in-house technical investigators.

The Qinghai courts released supporting systems, including the “Regulations on the Several Issues on Technical Investigators Participating in Litigation” and the “Responsibilities and Duties of Technical Investigators and the Relevant Requirements”. By replacing the forensic examination procedure with technical investigation, the courts have substantially lowered the costs of finding facts relating to specialised problems and improved adjudication efficiency.


(5)        Advancing development of an alternative dispute resolution mechanism of intellectual property cases

The recent years have seen a rapid increase in intellectual property caseload. However, the People’s Courts have leverage their comparative advantages to resolve disputes. Different courts did their best to provide a myriad of solutions and create synergies to improve substantially the quality and efficiency of intellectual property adjudication.

By focusing on judicial mediation, the Hubei courts employed a multi-prong approach, using mediation to encourage harmonious resolution and amicable cooperation, and in doing so, facilitate development. The Hubei approach was effective at resolving many conflicts and disputes in the intellectual property domain. For example, in the copyright infringement case of China Audio-Video Copyright Association, Evergrande Music et al. vs. Wuhan Huanledi Music City, the Hubei courts succeeded in mediating the massive case, which involved more than a thousand related cases, and the dispute was satisfactorily resolved, and the case withdrawn.

The Hainan courts took a “defence of rights and education” approach that succeeded in achieving post-mediation discontinuance for many intellectual property civil infringement cases. In the copyright infringement by Chen, a famous artisan and craftsman, the case was successfully settled through mediation.

The People's Courts of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region employed an innovation mediation method by creating a platform to align litigation and mediation. Disputants are guided to use the platform to select appointed mediation, industry mediation, expert mediation and administrative mediation to resolve their intellectual property disputes.

Yulin Intermediate People’s Court of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region developed a “judicial cum administrative” joint-mechanism to resolve intellectual property disputes. Together with the industry and commerce authorities, it issued the “Opinions on the Establishment of a Mechanism to Align Judicial Mediation with Administrative Mediation for Trademark Infringement Disputes”. The two authorities integrated their law enforcement information resources and created a information-sharing platform to deal with trademark infringement.

The Shijiazhuang Intermediate People’s Court of Hebei Province set up the Arbitration Committee’s Arbitration Office for Aligning Litigation and Mediation located at the reception area for mediation application. The People’s Court of Wuhu Economic and Technological Development Zone in Anhui Provide created a alternative resolution service platform comprising “online + offline mediation” mechanisms to provide different alternatives in dispute resolution. So far, 1,645 cases have been resolved before trial.


III.         Strengthened supervision and guidance of lower level courts to standardise the judicial practice based on uniform criteria

Fair justice is of paramount importance in terms of the role it plays in “law-based governance”. It is the lifeline of the People’s Courts and fundamental in ensuring judicial credibility. In 2017, the People’s Courts continued to improve on the rules and norms of judicial protection, strengthen the adjudication management and supervision mechanisms, and stepped up adjudication research and guidance to elevate intellectual property adjudication quality and efficiency, and to enable the people to feel equality and justice in every case handled by the judiciary.


(1)        Improving the formulation and issuance of judicial interpretation and judicial policy

On 24 April 2017, the Supreme People’s Court published the “China Outline on Intellectual Property Judicial Protection (2016-2020)”. This was the first time that the Supreme People’s Court published a judicial protection outline targeting at a specific adjudication sector. The outline attracted much attention and was highly commended by theorists and practitioners alike, and was selected as one of the top ten court news among all the People’s Courts for 2017, and among the top ten events on promoting the rule of law development on the internet in 2017. The Outline summarised, collated and crystallised the successful experience during the past 30 years of intellectual property judicial protection, and explicitly stated the guiding concepts, basic principles, main goals and key measures relating to the judicial protection of intellectual property, and laid out the path and direction of development. More importantly, this was also the first time that the 8 goals and 15 specific measures to be achieved in the judicial protection of intellectual property are set forth in a systematic and innovative manner. The Outline has become an importance symbol of our intellectual property adjudication system being increasingly sound and robust and a clear indication of our maturing adjudication capabilities. It provides a solid institutional, organisational, experiential and theoretical foundation for development of our intellectual property adjudication regime, and enables the world to better understand the meaning of “Chinese wisdom” and “Chinese experience” in the judicial protection of intellectual property.

The Supreme People’s Court has issued the “Supreme People’s Court’s Regulations on Several Issues on the Adjudication of Administrative Cases Relating to the Granting and validation of Trademark”, a set of important measures that distils the court’s adjudication practice and experience and that provides sound standards for the application of law for granting and verifying trademark. The regulations are of important significance for promoting good faith, for establishing good order for trademark application and registration, and for unifying decision criteria during adjudication.

The Supreme People’s Court is also studying and drafting the “Supreme People’s Court’s Interpretation of Several Issues on the Application of Law Relating to Applying for Pre-Trial Preservation (Injunctive) Measures to Prevent Further Infringement for Intellectual Property Adjudication”, “Supreme People’s Court’s Interpretation of the Application of Law During Adjudication of Civil Trademark Disputes” and “Supreme People’s Court’s Regulations on Several Issues on Adjudication of Administrative Cases Relating to the Granting and validation of Patent Rights (I)”


(2)          Actively participate in the editing and revising and the research and drafting of laws

The Supreme People’s Court has actively participated in the revision of the Patent Law, Copyright Law and Anti-Monopoly Law, and has provided comprehensive inputs for the drafting and research of the Civil Code to reflect the experience and requirements relating to the judicial protection of intellectual property. It has also observed emerging situations and problems, organised research and arguments for special topics, reviewed the judicial principles and experiences relating to its adjudication practice, and based on the practical circumstances in adjudication, provide specific recommendations on revisions of the law. The Supreme People’s Court effective contribution is seen in the revised Anti-Monopoly Law including most of its important recommendations. It also participated in the National People’s Congress’ Standing Committee’s review of the enforcement status of the Copyright Law, and has, based on the issues raised by the review personnel, studied and put into effect the law enforcement review report and opinions.


(3)        Focus greater efforts in adjudication research and case guidance

Strengthened thematic studies on the application of law: The Supreme People’s Court has completed a special research on “Intellectual Property Protection Measures for Business Models And Other New Forms of Innovative Outcomes”, proposed important action to accelerate the development of China into an intellectual property powerhouse, and actively explored how the courts could play a more dominant role in protecting the intellectual property of cutting-edge sectors.

On 24 November 2017, the Supreme People’s Court convened in Shanghai the Second Seminar on Intellectual Property Judicial Protection in Free Trade Zones. Many topics were discussed at the seminar, such as implementation of “three-in-one” intellectual property adjudication mechanism in courts within free trade zones and special procedures for intellectual property disputes. The fourth seminar on the hottest topics in intellectual property protection in China was held, during which topics such as regulatory measures to curb trademark squatting were discussed in great depth.

The Jiangsu High People’s Court completed the “Research Study on Preventing in the Leakage of Trade Secrets During Litigation in the Judicial Protection of Intellectual Property”.

The Guangdong High People’s Court drafted the “Research Report on Resolving Difficulties in Awarding Infringement Damages by Calculating the Market Value of Intellectual property”, and has obtained substantive outcomes.

The Chongqing High People’s Court completed important researches, such as the “Typology Analysis of the Usage Behaviour of Later Trademarks and Their Regulated Use”.

The Hubei High People’s Court prepared the “Research Report on the Relevant Circumstances Relating to the Adjudication of Cases Involving Standard-Essential Patents”.

The Beijing Intellectual Property Court embarked on the “Study on the Judicial Protection of Intellectual Property Involved in International Competition”. Being an important research topic, the study received the Supreme People’s Court’s Award of Excellence for Key Topics in Adjudication Theory.

The Guizhou High People’s Court completed the “Research Study on the Judicial Protection of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Guizhou Province”, with the aim of enabling the healthy development of intangible cultural heritage.


Strengthening the role of case guidance: The Supreme People’s Court issued its 16th set of 10 intellectual property-related guiding cases. The Intellectual Property Guiding Cases and Gazetted Cases, the typical cases published during the “26 April” Intellectual Property Outreach Week, the cases published by the Intellectual Property Case Guidance Research (Beijing) Base, and the typical intellectual property cases published by the Judicial Case Research Institute of the Supreme People’s Court together form a collection of cases that becomes an integral part of the Chinese-style case-guidance system. For the next step, the Supreme People’s Court’s Intellectual Property Division will capitalise on its role as the Intellectual Property Case Guidance Research (Beijing) Base by continuing to work on developing a national database for intellectual property cases to improve on the Chinese-style intellectual property case-guidance system and facilitating the creation of uniform decision criteria.


IV.          Promoting “Sunshine Justice” to Enable Fair and Credible Judicial Protection

In 2017, the People’s Courts implemented the open trial system for intellectual property adjudication to ensure that adjudication is public, fair and transparent. By promoting “sunshine justice”, the courts ensured that they safeguard the parties and the public’s right to know.


(1)        Deepening open justice to ensure fair justice

Continued to advance the public availability of written rulings and judgements: The courts have been actively exploring new avenues on the mobile internet to promote open justice, extensive use of platforms such as China Judgements Online (, China Judicial Process Information Online ( and China Court Hearing Online that provides streaming and access to pre-recorded proceedings (, and the creation of an information-based, data-driven and detail-oriented intellectual property open justice system. Rulings and judgements suitable for making public will be made available promptly and completely online, updates on online availability will be announced regularly, and the scope of such public access will be gradually increased, and efficiency improved. The rulings and judgements of the Supreme People’s Court Intellectual Property Division are fully accessible by the public.


Advanced public access of the adjudication process and online case operations: The courts have improved their management of the adjudication process for intellectual property cases to ensure that the parties’ right to know and right to supervise are protected, which in turn improves the adjudication quality and efficiency. Another area of the courts’ endeavours is the furthering of the development of technology courts to enable contemporaneous audio- and video-recording and live streaming of the hearing process. With technology, the courts were able to create innovative forms and increase the scope of open hearing, and succeeded in elevating the level of intelligence of open justice.

Except for cases that open hearing is not permitted under the law or that the parties have applied for a private hearing, the Supreme People’s Court conducts open hearing through the China Court Hearing Online (, for intellectual property-related second instance and certiorari (tishen) cases.


(2)        Intensifying publicity to elevate judicial impact

To showcase the fruitful outcomes of the People’s Courts during more than three decades of intellectual property adjudication, the Supreme People’s Court organised an “Exhibition on the Judicial Protection of Intellectual Property in China” at the China Court Museum during the 2017 Intellectual Property Week. With its rich content, creative formats, broad scope and high standard, the exhibition embodied the highlights of intellectual property adjudication work and its impact, and succeeded in attracting more than 2000 individuals and groups. Representatives from 16 central authorities and 6 social organisations, including the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce, selected special supervisors and specially invited information officers from the Supreme People’s Court, ambassadors from Russia, France, Italy, the United States, Nigeria and Senegal, and selected representatives from the Global 500 companies were invited to the opening ceremony and exhibition. The event was reported by many media, including the People’s Court Daily, Phoenix Satellite TV,,, (the Supreme People’s Court’s official website), The exhibition was also visited by the Director-General of the World Intellectual Property Organisation Francis Gurry, who highly commended on the results of China’s courts in intellectual property protection. The local courts, which responded enthusiastically to the call for contribution of exhibition materials, demonstrated the unity and excellent spirit of the People’s Courts intellectual property adjudication team.


(3)        Participating in specific projects and developing international exchanges

The Supreme People’s Court worked closely with the Office of the National Leading Group on the Fight against IPR Infringement and Counterfeiting and completed its various designated tasks. In April 2017, Chief Justice Zhou Qiang was invited to visit the headquarters of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO)in Geneva, Switzerland, and signed a memorandum of understanding with WIPO on judicial exchanges and cooperation. The Supreme People’s Court will establish a cooperation mechanism with WIPO to jointly develop training material for intellectual property judges in developing countries. It participated in the negotiations of the Hague Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters, the EU-China IP Dialogue and working group meetings under the EU-China IP Dialogue mechanism, and in negotiations for the intellectual property chapter for free trade agreements. It also sent representatives to participate in the 139th Annual Meeting of the International Trademark Association and discussed the current issues pertaining to international protection of trademarks and delivered a keynote speech. “International Exchange (Shanghai) Base for the Judicial Protection of Intellectual Property Rights in China” was fully leveraged to establish a sound and long-term international exchange mechanism for intellectual property matters to strengthen exchange and cooperation with countries with vast experience in intellectual property protection. The Supreme People’s Court also published a bilingual version of the “Supreme People’s Court Annual Report on Intellectual Property Cases (2008-2015)” to extend its scope of foreign exchanges and influence.


(4)        Highlighted work achievements and implemented effective publicity for “26April” World Intellectual Property Day

Since 2009, the Supreme People’s Court has used the “26 April” World Intellectual Property Day as the opportunity and judicial fairness and openness and the theme to highlight the hot topics and key achievements of judicial protection of intellectual property. It has continued to review and improve on the measures and channels relating to intellectual property judicial protection and outreach. During the nine years, the courts have evolved the intellectual property outreach activities with system and scale, and have created and brand effect.

At the press conference for the 2017 Intellectual Property Week, Vice President Tao Kaiyuan shared the overview of the results of the People’s Courts in intellectual property judicial protection in 2016 and the work plans as well as innovative efforts for 2017. Vice President Tao’s also released the “Intellectual Property Protection by Chinese Courts in 2016” (Chinese and English versions), “Ten Major Intellectual Property Cases and Fifty Typical Cases Adjudicated by China’s Courts in 2016”, and the “Supreme People’s Court Annual Report of Intellectual Property Cases (2016)”. More than 20 central and local media organisations reported on the press conference, and public response was overwhelming.

Local courts adapted the “26 April” programme to the local circumstances and organised a slew of outreach activities. The Zhejiang High People’s Court convened a media session and provided an update on the state of judicial protection of intellectual property. It also launched the “Thirty Years of Glory” to showcase the Hangzhou courts’ achievements in judicial protection of intellectual property, released the “Ten Major Cases on Intellectual Property Protection”, “Ten Major Cases Involving the People’s Livelihood” and “Ten Major Mediation Cases”. The outreach programme for the “26 April” World Intellectual Property Day meticulously organised by the Hunan courts was also packed with activities, including bringing intellectual property adjudication to companies, communities and university campuses, and publishing a judicial protection white paper and typical cases. Also, an open court to adjudicate the “Jiumu” trademark infringement and unfair competition case was held at the Central South University, and the activity achieved positive social outcomes.


V.            Strengthened Management of the Adjudication Team and Advanced development of adjudication capability

Team-development is the foundation of the People’s Court intellectual property adjudication practice. The intellectual property adjudication teams of the various levels of courts must elevate their political calibre and professional capabilities and accomplishments; as such, the courts must build a team of judges that remain steadfast in political belief, possess the sense of totality, has deep knowledge of the law, and that is skilful and has an international perspective to provide sound organisational safeguards for the adjudication of intellectual property in the new era.


(1)        Intensified learning of ideological and political thoughts to elevate political calibre

All the courts have followed the plans and requirements of the Party Central to focus on the goals of “acquiring knowledge, being proficient, getting done” and take concrete measures to learn and carry out the principles of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (“Party Congress”). Through continued learning, intellectual property judges in China acquired profound comprehension of the principles enshrined in Xi Jinping’s Chinese socialism in the new era: the strategic thinking, innovative concepts, dialectical notions, rule-of-law principles and bottom-line thinking. They also acquired profound comprehension of the original intent and mission, political character, values and ideals of communist party members. The courts ensured that judges remained steadfast to their ideals and beliefs, such that the “ultimate line of defence” comprising the outlook of the world, philosophy of life and value system stayed intact; that the level of knowledge and way of thinking of every judge better meets the requirements of the new missions in the new era. This has improved the judges’ ability to discharge their duties and fulfil their mission, and that their work better meet the demands of scientific rigour and are performed with greater initiative and innovativeness with improved predictability. The intellectual property division of the Supreme People’s Court developed a programme to learn and carry through the principles of the 19th Party Congress and has organised several “Intellectual Property Court Party Branch Lecture Series” to emphasise the importance of focusing on party-building to lead team-development, which further improves adjudication.


(2)        Strengthened acquisition of adjudication skills to improve ability to discharge duties

The People’s Courts have dedicated themselves to improving the adjudication capabilities of intellectual property judges as it is an important means of advancing the judicial protection of intellectual property rights. Education and learning has been intensified by organising training of specific topics, special seminars, on-the-job training, attachments and exchanges and observation of court proceedings. By nurturing an adjudication team that believes continued education, judges could adapt quickly to the emerging realities of rapidly changing knowledge and rapid development of the adjudication practice.

Between 3 and 9 September 2017, the Intellectual Property Division of the Supreme People’s Court held a national training course on intellectual property adjudication, where 120 judges from the local courts attended the course. To address the problems and key issues in the granting and validation of trademarks, many courts invited the main drafters of the judicial interpretation on trademark granting and validation to expound on the important provisions and the standards and criteria to focus on during application of the law. Such lectures enriched and served the needs of the adjudication practice. The Zhejiang High People’s Court invited the Supreme People’s Court judges, intellectual property experts and academics to conduct classes on the different aspects of intellectual property adjudication.


(3)        Strengthened development of clean justice to build an incorruptible team

In 2017, every intellectual adjudication entity within China’s court system maintained zero-tolerance for corruption. They focused on cultivating a good party ethos and on fighting corruption and were determined that the anti-corruption efforts left no stone unturned. The measures adopted were aimed at containing corruption through pressure and fear; however, for greater effectiveness, a balanced approach was employed, where a firm hand was balanced with a soft touch and strict rules with a caring heart. Our policy was to act early and address petty corrupt behaviour, and to take preventive action to minimise corruption. Over time, the courts have evolved the ability to discover problems and address them promptly, and to continue to strengthen the teams’ ability to self-correct, self-improve, self-reform and self-augment. The courts believe in tackling tackle both symptoms and root causes and are determined to weed out unspoken practices of trading power for money or judges acting as litigation brokers between the presiding judge and the parties to prevent any abuse of power endowed by the party and the people.





2018 is the first year of implementation of the principles of the 19th Party Congress and marks the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening-up. It is the year that Chinese socialism enters a new era, that the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation turns a new chapter, and that China’s strengthened cooperation with the rest of the world assumes new dimensions. Judicial protection of intellectual property by the People’s Courts will continue to rely on the tenets of Xi Jinping’s new era Chinese socialism as the guidepost, implement the new development concepts, and actively adapt to the changes in the international landscape and new developments in the economic, social and scientific sectors. The courts will work on boost their“ four confidences”, find innovative ways of thinking and doing, and remember their original goals, and they will stay true to their mission, forge ahead and work hard to continue to improve on the intellectual property litigation system and strengthen development to the intellectual property court system. In doing so, the courts will cultivate a good environment where law-based governance prevails, and which conduces to the furthering of the national strategy of innovation-driven development, and will make new and greater contributions to achieving the ultimate goal of building a complete xiaokang society and to triumphing in the pursuit of Chinese socialism in the new era.





[1]The above publicised figures exclude the total number of first-instance intellectual property-related criminal cases, the number of cases involving the production, sale of counterfeit and substandard goods, and as such, infringes upon intellectual property rights, the number of cases relating to illegal business operations involving the infringement of intellectual property rights and the number of other intellectual property infringement cases.

Responsible editor:IPC