Further Developments in Specialized IP Courts

According to a recent article by Harry Yang (杨成) at http://npc.people.com.cn/n/2014/0825/c14576-25535722.html, the NPC is discussing establishing specialized IP courts in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, based on a draft submitted by the Supreme People’s Court (SPC).

The specialized IP courts are proposed to have cross-regional jurisdiction over civil and administrative IP cases related to patents, plant varieties, integrated circuit layout designstechnical secrets” (which is not a term in the anti-unfair competition law), and “other” intellectual property rights.   The SPC will enact a rule to divide the jurisdiction for each specialized IP court.

The specialized IP courts will also have jurisdiction over the appeals of first instance copyright and trademark civil verdicts, as well as appeals for administrative decisions made by the local courts where the specialized IP courts are located.

The Beijing IP Court will have jurisdiction over administrative IP cases decided against any administrative decision made by departments of the State Council, thus retaining – if not enhancing – their combined administrative/civil jurisdiction.

Regarding appeals of the first instance verdict made by the specialized IP courts, the local People’s High Courts will have jurisdiction.

The goals of the courts appear to be to strengthen IPR protection,  provide greater uniformity in adjudication (much like the reasons for the CAFC) and to mitigate local protectionism.  The experts took note that amongst the 90,000 IP cases of last year, there were several thousands that were more difficult.  These difficult cases generally involved high technology, and  were also a concern of the international community.   The article also notes that certain jurisdiction issues need to be resolved involving appeals from local courts to the specialized IP courts.

The article does not address outstanding subject matter jurisdiction issues – such as jurisdiction over antimonopoly law cases, or non-technical trade secrets by the specialized IP courts.

SPC Publishes Revised Judicial Interpretation on Patent Infringement Litigation for Public Comments

On July 16, the Supreme Peoples Court published a public comment draft of proposed revisions to its “Decision of the SPC Regarding Questions of Application of Law in Adjudication of Patent Cases”, 最高人民法院关于审理专利纠纷案件适用法律问题的若干规定. Comments are due by August 15, 2014. Comments may be emailed to: zhuanliyijian@163.com。 The last revision to this document was in 2013, when a provision was inserted to give jurisdiction to designated basic courts to handle patent cases.

Of particular note in this short set of revisions are provisions regarding providing an appraisal report for utility model patents to the court if such a report had been requested by the plaintiff of SIPO, as well as provisions which appear to provide more flexibility in calculation of damages by the court, consistent with the 2008 patent law.

Many of the changes appear self-explanatory – such as those which track changes in relevant statutory provisions.  However, in light of the efforts to amend the patent law, experiments in specialized IP courts, calls for more deterrent damages and more extensive commercialization of IP rights, some additional explanation would be helpful regarding the reasons for any changes in policy that may be implicit in these revisions and any further changes that may be contemplated.

Earlier USG comments on the patent law revisions are found here.

Once I receive a full translation or comparison of prior drafts from any reader, I will post it on line. Readers are encouraged to send in their translations, suggestions and comments. For now, the full Chinese text of the proposed revisions with my own initial bilingual observations are attached.

 

IPR Deliverables at the Strategic & Economic Dialogue

Xi Jinping's Opening Speech

Xi Jinping’s Opening Speech

The US and China recently concluded their Sixth Strategic and Economic Dialogue. IP-related outcomes involved such areas as: trade secret protection; cooperation with China’s judiciary; and software procurement. In addition there were other outcomes with IP-related deliverables in such areas as antimonopoly law and control over active pharmaceutical ingredients.

Excerpts from the Joint Fact Sheet are below —

Trade Secrets:

The United States and China affirm that they do not approve of trade secret theft for commercial advantage and that the protection and enforcement of trade secrets is essential to maintain fair competition and to develop an innovative economy. Both sides are to pursue criminal and other actions to deter the misappropriation of trade secrets, and make information available to the public about their actions, to the extent permitted by law. China has incorporated the protection and enforcement of trade secrets into its 2014 Priorities of the Nationwide Crack Down on Intellectual Property Infringement and Production of Counterfeit and Shoddy Products, published by the State Council on April 14, 2014. As its next step, China is to vigorously investigate and prosecute trade secret theft cases; ensure that civil and criminal cases are tried and the judgments are published according to law; and protect trade secrets contained in materials submitted by companies as part of regulatory, administrative, and other proceedings according to Chinese law. China is also to undertake publicity and education activities to improve the awareness of companies and the general public regarding the protection of trade secrets; to undertake studies and research on trade secrets law and related legislative and policy issues; and is to continue engaging in technical exchanges with the United States on these issues. China affirms that it is to continue prioritizing trade secrets protection and enforcement and is to take positive actions that are to be included in upcoming work plans.

Trade Secrets and Administrative Licensing:

…Further, the United States and China commit to strictly implement existing laws and regulations to adequately protect any trade secret or sensitive commercial information provided by the applicant during the administrative licensing or approval process, consistent with laws.

Judicial Cooperation:

Building on the prior successful exchanges between the United States and China at the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) Intellectual Property Rights Working Group and at meetings among relevant agencies, the United States and China are to continue to promote exchanges between respective Intellectual Property (IP) agencies, including judicial and administrative bodies, on topics of mutual interest, such as enforcement, transparency, and specialized IP courts. These
discussions and any recommendations are to be reported to the JCCT and other bilateral meetings.

Software Procurement:

China confirms that the Deployment Standards for the Assets of the Office of General Software of Government Agencies is a measure designed to strengthen the administration of spending and implement the CPC Central Committee’s call for frugality. This measure was drafted with the intention to not have any purpose or effect of creating obstacles to international trade. The United States and China are to continue to engage on ways to address any obstacles to trade facing companies.

Other Outcomes with IP Implications

Antimonopoly Law:

The United States and China recognize that the objective of competition policy is to promote consumer welfare and economic efficiency rather than promote individual competitors or industries, and that enforcement of their respective competition laws should be fair, objective, transparent, and non-discriminatory. China commits that its three Anti-Monopoly Enforcement Agencies (AMEAs) are to provide to any party under investigation information about the AMEA’s competition concerns with the conduct or transaction, as well as effective opportunity for the party to present
evidence in its defense.

Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients:

To advance the shared goal of ensuring access to safe and high-quality medicines for patients and protect supply chain integrity, to affirm the responsibilities of the manufacturers and regulators over the life-cycle of the drug to ensure product quality, and to fight against illegal actions to manufacture, distribute, and export counterfeit and substandard active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and APIs used for counterfeit and substandard products, China commits, during the process of revising the Drug Administration Law (DAL), to develop and seriously consider amendments to the DAL requiring regulatory control of the manufacturers of bulk chemicals that can be used as APIs (“bulk chemicals”), including “export only” producers and distributors. To this end, China commits to hold a multi-ministerial work mechanism on a potential regulatory and enforcement framework to develop the oversight of bulk chemicals, and a roadmap for implementation, by the end of this year. The United States commits to continue to review its authority to exclude from consideration the import of bulk chemicals from firms that are not registered with China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA). In addition, the United States and China commit to deepen technical exchanges, trainings, and regulatory cooperation to enhance the safety of bulk chemicals traded between the United States and China, and to exchange views on the user fee programs at the upcoming pharmaceutical working group meeting of the JCCT.

There is also a separate US Fact Sheet which further elaborates on these deliverables.