Supreme People’s Court Addresses the State of China’s IP Courts

On August 29, 2017, President of the Supreme People's Court and Chief Grand Justice ZHOU Qiang delivered a work report on the state of China’s IP courts over the past three years to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC). According to Zhou, the establishment of China’s IP courts has significant importance in implementing China’s National IP Strategy and the Innovation-Driven Development Strategy, creating a robust judicial system for IP with “Chinese characteristics,” and further strengthening the judicial protection of IP.  
His report includes updates on the three IP courts in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangdong:

  • As of June 2017, the three courts received a total of 46,071 cases and adjudicated 33,135. The cases included those on patents, new plant varieties, integrated circuit layout design, technical secrets, computer software, among other technical and specialized topics.
  • Patent-related cases involved unmanned aerial vehicle technology, 4G communications technology, and other high-tech cases, and strengthened the protection of core technology and cutting-edge areas in technological achievement.
  • In the area of infringement, there have been improvements in higher compensations, determination of damages, and injunctions. The Guangdong IP Judicial Protection and Market Value Research Base is working on these issues. 

To promote the “unified application” of IP law, the Supreme People’s Court has set up an IP guiding cases system at the Beijing IP Court, exploring the creation of a guiding cases system with “Chinese characteristics” and perfecting the identification and use of model cases (典型案例). The report also includes updates on the administration and management of the courts, the use of technical investigations, and the professionalization of judges.
The report also states that the three IP courts should serve the implementation of China’s national strategies. For example, the Beijing IP Court should assist the creation of an innovation community in Beijing and Tianjin; the Shanghai IP Court should support Shanghai’s creation of a global science and technology center; and the Guangdong IP Court should aid in anti-counterfeiting efforts in the Guangdong free trade pilot.
The report also mentions international cooperation with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), and other parties including the U.S., the EU, the International Trademark Association (INTA), and the WTO. As for difficulties, Zhou lists expanding caseloads, increasing complexity in science and technology-related IP cases, talent, uniformity across courts, and level of specialization.