hina’s Supreme People’s Court (SPC) issued guidelines on improving the judicial protection of intellectual property (IP) on April 21, requiring a more effective, accurate, equal and stricter protection.
Jiang Bixin, then SPC deputy president, said at a press conference held the same day that the guidelines are in response to the central government’s demand to deepen reform of judgments in IP cases as well as implement phase one of the Sino-US trade agreement. As part of the deal, China pledged to strengthen the protection of business secrets, tighten the clampdown on counterfeit products and improve the judicial implementation and proceedings of IP protection.
Jiang said the rules focus on reducing the cost of litigation and the time it takes to hear and rule on cases. Compensation for those found to have had their IP rights infringed will be increased, and the bar is set lower for the evidence that litigants have to provide.
The document also emphasizes equal protection must be afforded to different economic bodies and contract parties from different countries. Judgment criteria must be consistent across cases.
China has formed a new judgment system for intellectual property protection, which consists of the SPC’s judicial tribunal, intellectual property courts at 32 local supreme courts, several middle and bottom-level courts and three designated courts for IP. The new document requires the effective implementation of the system and emphasizes the guidance role of typical cases.
According to the SPC 2019 Report on the Intellectual Property Protection by Chinese Courts published the same day, Chinese courts nationwide accepted 481,793 IP cases in 2019 and settled 475,853 cases (including pending cases), 44.2 percent and 48.9 percent more than that in 2018.
The report shows that more IP cases are related to the legality of administrative power. The SPC, it said, accepted 1,066 such cases in 2019, 70.8 percent more than 2018 and local courts accepted 16,134, 19.1 percent more than that in 2018.
Jiang said that the protection of scientific technologies and IP is of extreme importance to human survival and development and that China calls for more effective IP protection.
Analysts said China’s growing emphasis on IP protection will improve the business environment and attract more foreign investors. According to the government’s 2019 report on protecting intellectual property and improving the business environment, China saw 59,800 new foreign businesses set up and used 941.5 billion yuan (US$138.5b) worth of foreign investment in 2019, 5.8 percent more than in 2018.