Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Specialised IP court for China: what will it mean for patent litigation?

"China establishes specialised intellectual property courts" is the title of the news flash from Rouse, which reached this blogger as an email today but can also be read in full online here. It states, in relevant part:
" ... Following key indications in the last 12 months of the central government’s intention to establish a specialised IP Court, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee issued the draft Decision on Establishing Intellectual Property Rights Courts in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou (the Decision).

The Decision establishes the IP Courts as of 31 August 2014 [in other words, they are already presumably up and running in one form or other]. The Decision provides some useful insight into the proposed jurisdiction, staffing, and supervision of the IP Courts, which are intended to further the efficiency and consistency of China’s IP enforcement regime.


The IP Court sits within the judicial hierarchy in a position equivalent to the local Intermediate People’s Court. It will be a court of first instance with respect to ‘technically complex’ civil matters relating to patents, technical trade secrets, plant varieties, and semiconductor layout designs.

The Decision indicates that this jurisdiction will become cross-territorial within three years. In addition, the IP Court will also have original jurisdiction over administrative appeals and invalidation actions stemming from decisions issued by SIPO [State Intellectual Property Office] and the CTMO [China Trade Mark Office].

The IP Court will also serve as a court of appeal for trade mark and copyright matters originating in the basic level court in its municipality or province. Foreign parties typically initiate civil matters in the Intermediate People’s Court or higher, so it is likely that the IP Court will serve as a court of first instance in most cases where a trade mark or copyright matter involves a foreign party. Decisions of the IP Court will be reviewed by at least one appellate court, the first of which is the high court of the province or municipality where the IP Court is located. The three IP Courts will not be the ultimate appellate courts for IP matters, so their role in harmonising IP jurisprudence will be limited.


The Standing Committee of the local People’s Congress will have the power to appoint and dismiss key positions within the IP Courts, including the President, Deputy President, Chief Judge, Judicial Officer, and Judicial Committee.


The IP Courts will have a number of interested stakeholders. They will be supervised by the Supreme People’s Court (the SPC), the local High People’s Court, and the procuratorate, although no particular procuratorate is specified. In particular, the SPC will regulate the workload of the IP Courts, including the type and number of cases heard. The Standing Committee of the local People’s Congress in its supervisory role will have significant influence on the functioning of the IP Courts. The IP Courts will also receive operational guidance and trial supervision from the Higher People’s Court of the district where the IP Court is located. ...".
It's clear that, at this early stage, a good deal of detail remains to be hammered out. It will be good to know whether the court will do little more than enable judges to gain greater expertise through hearing a more concentrated diet of patent cases or whether it will evolve IP-specific rules for dealing with evidence, witnesses and so on. PatLit welcomes this development and awaits further news with eager interest.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

China is possibly trying to make the transition to a US-style environment for its tech companies, where litigation is part of the ecosystem. Specialised courts will assist that process.