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Intellectual Property Protection by Chinese Courts in 2012

Intellectual Property Protection by Chinese Courts in 2012
(Supreme People's Court, April 2013)


(最高人民法院 2013年4月)

I.Adjudicated according to Law, and Focused on Delivery of Justice
II.Served the Needs of Socioeconomic Development, and Implemented the National Intellectual Property Strategy
III.Increased adjudication supervision and guidance, and ensured consistency in application of law
IV.Bolstered the foundation of Basic-Level Courts, and Strengthened the Adjudication Team
In 2012, the people's courts have advanced judicial operations in the protection of intellectual property rights. Adjudication of intellectual property-related disputes has taken to new heights.
Several major events relating to the judicial protection of intellectual property have taken place as follows: (1) Wang Shengjun, President of the Supreme People's Court, presented the Report on Strengthening Intellectual Property Adjudication to Advance the Building of an Innovative Country at the Thirtieth Session of the Standing Committee of the Eleventh National People's Congress, elaborating the people's courts activities relating to intellectual property adjudication since 2008; (2) The Supreme People's Court (SPC) has issued judicial interpretations Provisions on Issues Relating to the Application of the Law in Adjudicating Civil Disputes Arising from Monopolistic Behaviour, the Provisions on Issues Relating to the Application of the Law in Adjudicating Civil Disputes Involving the Infringement of the Right to Network Dissemination of Information and the judicial policy document Opinions on Leveraging the Adjudicatory Function to Provide Judicial Safeguards for Deepening the Reform of Scientific & Technological Institutions and for Accelerating the Establishment of a National System of Innovation; (3)The first national workshop for chief judges of intellectual property divisions was held in Guangzhou. This was the first time that Xi Xiaoming, Vice-president of the Supreme People's Court, provided a comprehensive narrative of the policy to "strengthen protection, classification, appropriate stringency" in the judicial protection of intellectual property; (4) The China-United States Intellectual Property Adjudication Conference was held in Beijing.
I.Adjudicated according to Law, and Focused on Delivery of Justice
In 2012, the people's courts discharged their official responsibility in adjudicating intellectual property matters. Delivery of justice was the top priority. Intellectual property-related cases were adjudicated fairly and efficiently. This has improved adjudication quality and efficiency, enhanced judicial credibility, and has enabled the judiciary to further its primary role in intellectual property protection.
In the past year, the people's courts have adjudicated cases involving all aspects of intellectual property law, encompassing civil, administrative and criminal matters. The number of intellectual property cases has increased substantially this year; the increase in the number of criminal cases most significant, more than double last year's figures. In terms of the number of first instance intellectual property cases accepted in 2012, there were 87,419 civil cases, 45.99% more than last year; 2,928 administrative cases, 20.35% more than last year; and 13,104 criminal cases, 129.61% more than last year.
Civil Litigation has become an increasingly important means to protect intellectual property.
Adjudicating intellectual property-related civil disputes is essential to the people's courts. Civil litigation is an important means to protecting intellectual property. In 2012, the people's court have strengthened protection of various intellectual property branches: patent, to encourage innovation and drive development; trademark, to enable brand-building; copyright, to enhance the overall capacity and competitiveness of the cultural sector; competition, to motivate market players and invigorate the market.
The number of first instance civil intellectual property cases accepted and disposed by local courts grew by 45.99% and 44.07% to 87,419 and 83,850 cases respectively. Within each intellectual property branch, the case numbers and percentage change compared to last year were as follows: 53,848 copyright cases, 53.04% higher; 19,815 trademark cases, 52.53% higher; 9,680 patent cases, 23.80% higher; 746 cases involving technology agreements, 33.93% higher; 1,123 cases involving unfair competition (of which, 55 were first instance civil cases involving monopoly disputes), 1.23% lower; 2,207 cases involved other intellectual property disputes, 0.64% higher. 1,429 first instance cases involving foreign parties were disposed, 8.18% higher; 613 first instance cases involving parties from either Hong Kong, Taiwan or Macao were disposed, 3.46% lower.For second instance cases involving civil intellectual property disputes, 9,581 were accepted, and 9,929 disposed (including carried over cases), 25.37% and 21.32% higher than last year respectively. New cases and concluded and reopened (zaishen) cases fell by 41.5% and 0.45%, to 172 and 223.
SPC's intellectual property division accepted 237 cases, concluded 246 cases (including carried over cases); 181 were newly reopened cases, and 186 were disposed (including carried over cases).
Adjudication quality and efficiency has improved. Clearance rate of civil intellectual property cases of first instance at the local courts maintained at 2011's level of 87.61%; appeal rate fell from 47.02% in 2011 to 39.53% in 2012; reopen (zaishen) rate fell from 0.51% in 2011 to 0.20% in 2012; and overrule or remand for retrial (chongshen) rate increased from 3.66% in 2011 to 5.46% in 2012. The percentage of civil intellectual property cases of first instance concluded within time limit increased from 98.57% in 2011 to 99.24% in 2012.
27 cases preliminary injunction relating to intellectual property disputes were accepted by the various levels of people's courts; approvals were granted for 83.33% of the cases admitted. To reduce the burden of proof on the part of the applicant, the people's courts accepted 320 applications for pre-trial preservation of evidence, and 96.73% were granted approval. 74 applications for pre-trial preservation of property were accepted, and 94.67% approved.
High profile cases include Apple Inc. and IP Application Development vs. Shenzhen Proview Technology, involving the "IPAD" trademark dispute; Sany Heavy Industry Co., Ltd vs. Ma'anshan City's Yonghe Heavy Industry Technology Co., Ltd, involving an unfair competition dispute;Beijing University's Founder Electronics Co. Ltd vs. Blizzard Entertainment etc., involving the copyright infringement of game fonts; Hu Jinqing and Wu Yunchu vs. Shanghai Animation Film Studio, involving attribution of copyright of the cartoon character "Huluwa" (lit. "Calabash Babies"); Han Han vs. Beijing Netcom Science & Technology Co., Ltd, involving copyright infringement; Zhejiang's Holley Communications infringement case vs. Shenzhen's Samsung Kejian Mobile Communication Technology Co., Ltd, involving a patent invention dispute; Zhang Chang, Zhang Hongyue, Nirenzhang Arts Development Co., Ltd vs. Zhang Tiecheng, Beijing Nirenzhang Bogu Clay Factory and Beijing Nirenzhang Arts & Craft Co., Ltd, involving unfair competition dispute; Yaoming vs. Wuhan Yunhedasha Sporting Goods Co., Ltd, involving infringement of moral rights and unfair competition.
Adjudication of intellectual property-related administrative actions further the support and supervision of administrative authorities to ensure lawful operations
In 2012,by granting and validating intellectual property rights and judicial review of administrative enforcements, the people's courts have streamlined and improved upon the review criteria for granting and validating intellectual property rights, and in regulating administrative operations for matters relating to intellectual property.
The local courts accepted 2,928 intellectual property-related administrative cases of first instance, 20.35% more than last year, and closed 2,899 cases, 17.37% more than last year. Of those accepted, the breakdown by intellectual property branch and percentage change compared to last year is: 760 patent cases, 16.21% higher; 2150 trademark cases, 21.68% higher;  3 copyright cases, 50% higher; 15 cases of other categories, 50% higher.
The number of first instance cases involving foreign parties or Hong Kong, Macao or Taiwan parties continued to account for a large percentage of the cases. Total number of cases was 1,349, representing 46.53% of the concluded intellectual property-related administrative cases of first instance; 1,127 of the above cases involved foreign parties, 109 Hong Kong parties, 0 Macao parties and 113 Taiwan parties.
Total intellectual property-related administrative cases of second instance accepted and concluded by the local courts was 1,424 and 1,388 respectively. Of the concluded cases, 1,225 were affirmed, 118 reversed, 3 remanded for retrial (chongshen), 22 withdrawn, 15 dismissed; in 1 case, the original ruling was revoked and an order issued to docket the case for hearing; 4 other cases were disposed of through other methods.
SPC accepted 98 intellectual property-related administrative cases and concluded 98. Of the concluded cases, 70 cases or 72.16% were dismissed; tishen orders (similar to certiorari) were issued for 20 cases or 20.41%, 2 cases or 2.04%were ordered to reopen (zaishen); 5 cases or 5.10% were withdrawn; 1 case or 1.02% was disposed through other methods.
SPC reviewed 24 tishen cases and concluded 22. Of those concluded, SPC affirmed the original decision for 5 cases, or 22.73%; reversed the decision for 16 cases, or 72.73%. 1 case, or 4.55%, withdrew.
High profile administrative cases include: Wei Tingjian vs. Tiansi Pharmaceutical & Health Co., Ltd, Trademark Review and Adjudication Board of the State Administration of Industry & Commerce, involving an administrative dispute concerning the cancellation of review; Suzhou Dingsheng Food Co., Ltd vs. Suzhou Administration Bureau of Industry & Commerce, Jiangsu Province, involving the administrative sanction of infringement of the "乐活LOHAS" trademark.
Better leverage of criminal adjudication to sanction and prevent infringement of intellectual property
In 2012, the people's courts have stepped up the criminal enforcement of intellectual property to sanction and prevent infringement of intellectual property.
For intellectual property-related criminal cases of first instance handled by local courts, new filings increased by 129.61% to 13,104 cases, including 7,840 intellectual property infringement cases (4,664 involved infringement of registered trademarks, such as use of counterfeit marks), 150.16% higher than last year; 2,607 were intellectual property infringement cases involving the crime of production and sale of fake or inferior goods, 236.82% higher than last year; 2,587 were intellectual property infringement cases involving the crime of illegal business operations, 48.08% higher than last year; 70 were cases of other nature, 34.62% higher than last year.
The number of intellectual property-related criminal cases of first instance concluded by the local courts has increased by 132.45%, to 12,794 cases. The number of persons against whom judgments were effective totalled 15,518, 54.33% higher than last year, including 15,338 who were given criminal sanctions, year-on-year increase is 94.35%. Of the concluded cases, 7,684 involved infringement of intellectual property; 2,504 involved production and sale of fake and inferior goods (involving intellectual property infringement); 2,535 involved illegal business operations (involving intellectual property infringement); 71 were of other nature (involving intellectual property infringement).
In cases where the offender was found guilty of intellectual property infringement, 2012 cases were convicted of counterfeiting a registered trademark; 1,906 were convicted of selling goods bearing a counterfeit trademark; 615 were convicted of illegally manufacturing or selling illegally manufactured counterfeit marks; 63 were convicted of patent counterfeiting; 3,018 were convicted of copyright infringement; 27 were convicted of selling infringing reproductions; and 43 were convicted of infringing upon trade secrets.
A high profile case involved the copyright infringement of an online game through a private server.
Combined Mediation and Adjudication to resolve disputes in response to the need to build a harmonious society
In 2012, the people's courts continued to broaden the use of mediation for intellectual property disputes, so as to manage conflicts and maintain social harmony and stability.
First, better aligned the adjudication-mediation processes, where improvement is made in the bridging and balance of adjudication with people's mediation, administrative mediation and judicial mediation in resolving intellectual property disputes.
The Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region's High People's Court worked with the region's various authorities, including the intellectual property bureau, industry and commerce bureau, press & publication bureau and cultural office, to clarify the bridging of the pre-trial mediation and litigation procedure, as well as systems as "mediation by invitation" (yaoqing tiaojie) and "mediation by appointment" (weituo tiaojie) during the trial process.
The Hunan High People's Court had relied upon the results of its Study on the Judicial Affirmation of Mediation Agreements for Administrative Actions to initiate a pilot study on judicial affirmation of mediation agreements for administrative cases of patent disputes at Changsha Municipality's Yuelu District People's Court.
The Fuzhou Intermediate People's Court had entered into an Agreement on Alignment of Adjudication and Mediation Processes for Intellectual Property Disputes with the Fuzhou customs authority and industry & commerce bureau.
The courts in Tibet, and Hebei, Henan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Sichuan, Guangdong and Hainan provinces also prioritised the development and improvement of a multifarious dispute resolution mechanism, and in the creation and positive development of a "three-in-one" mediation structure that integrates judicial mediation, people's mediation and administrative mediation.
Second, formulate more innovative mediation methods. To benefit from the professional expertise of industry associations and technical experts, the courts have explored a multi-prong mediation strategy, comprising "mediation by invitation", "industry mediation" and "expert mediation". The Beijing courts have established a dispute resolution mechanism comprising mediation strategies "mediation by invitation" and "cooperative practice" by working with entities such as the mediation centre of the Internet Society of China, China Writers' Association and the Beijing Intellectual Property Bureau. The Zhejiang High People's Court has also explored the possibility of establishing a mechanism for mediation by appointment, targeting at civil patent disputes. The Xinjiang Autonomous Region High People's Court has invited technical experts to assist in the mediation for intellectual property cases.
Third, focused on mediation of related cases, and guided the parties to re-channel their resentment from infringement into energy for business cooperation. The Jiangsu Province High People's Court has assessed the circumstances of related cases in the Karaoke industry and have organised several seminars for copyright owners, copyright collective management organisations, representatives of Karaoke bar owners and the relevant authorities to address at source the many issues in copyright disputes in the Karaoke industry. For high profile intellectual property disputes with related cases, the Guangxi Province High People's Court organised discussions at the local level with the parties, lawyers and the industry's regulatory authority.
The people's courts have made remarkable progress in mediating intellectual property disputes. 70.26% of first instance intellectual property-related civil cases withdrew after mediation. The success in mediating the highly publicised dispute between Apple Inc. and Proview Technology (Shenzhen) Co., Ltd involving the "IPAD" mark was highly commended at home and abroad.
Greater judicial openness for improved credibility to address public concerns
In 2012, the people's courts have employed various methods and approaches when adjudicating intellectual property disputes, and have increased openness and implemented open hearing.
First, the open intellectual property court includes circuit trials, live online telecast of court hearings, invitation of deputies of people's congresses, members of people's political consultative conferences and members of the public to observe hearings. In the anti-monopoly case of Qihoo 360 Technology Co., Ltd vs. Tencent Inc., the Guangdong Province High People's Court invited the media and the general public to observe the case proceedings, and allowed live telecast over the micro-blog. The courts of Inner Mongolia, Henan, Jiangsu, Anhui, Hunan, Sichuan, Fujian, Jiangxi, Ningxia provinces and Xinjiang region have established a permanent system of observation of court hearings by deputies of people's congresses and members of people's political consultative conferences, as well as online live telecast.
Second, published written judgements of intellectual property cases to publicise the outcome of the courts' decisions. The SPC continued to maintain the quality of the Intellectual Property Judgements in China website and the Judicial Protection of Intellectual Property sub-website under the SPC website. The high people's courts have designated information officer responsible for uploading judgements and decisions on the websites and for maintaining the websites. Information officers must also implement web analytics, and must report and improve the web traffic. As at end 2012, 47,422 intellectual property judgements and decisions have been published on the Intellectual Property Judgements in China website.

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