SPC Sets Up Team to Work on Civil Law Reform – IP Likely Continues in the Mix

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On May 12, the SPC set up a civil law codification team, chaired by Vice Presidents Xi Xiaoming, He Rong, Tao Kaiyuan, with Du Wanhua 杜万华 serving as Director of the Office.  Xi Xiaoming introduced the preliminary work of the SPC in this area.  He noted that the SPC intends to give full play to its experts in an advisory role to the NPC in the codification of civil code as called for in the Fourth Plenum, and in that light the Supreme Court established a consultant and Expert Committee for the codification of the civil code.

My comment: It is particularly gratifying to see former IP officials like Madame Tao Kaiyuan contribute to the work of the civil code. At the same time, we are seeing more civil law law judges working on the development of China’s specialized IP courts, thereby demonstrating increasing cross-fertilization between IP issues and general civil law issues in China.  The more IP is regarded as a private right, the more likely it is that China’s goals of developing an innovative economy can be achieved, IMHO.

Content source: Susan Finder and the Supreme People’s Court website, via the Chinalaw Listserve.

Photo source: Mark Cohen at the April 2015 “First China Intellectual Property Judicial Conference” (with subtitle indicating “under the background of judicial reform”). Chief Judge Song Xiaoming of the SPC IPR Tribunal presenting opening comments.

Brookings Program Highlights China’s Legal and IP Reforms

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A program on January 28, 2015 at Brookings in DC, demonstrated how China indeed is “crossing the rule of law river by feeling the IP stones.” Two Chinese judges – Supreme Peoples Court Vice President Tao Kaiyuan and SPC No. Four Civil Tribunal Chief Judge Luo Dongchuan, gave an upbeat overview of China’s quickening pace of judicial legal reform which was deeply informed by their experience on IP matters. The presentation of Judge Tao is available on line.

Judge Tao is well known to many for her stewardship of the Guangdong IP Office, where she served as Director General from 2008-2013. In her current role at the SPC, she oversees the IP Division (No. 3 Civil Division).  Judge Luo now handles foreign-related commercial and maritime cases. He has been outspoken recently about improving foreign-related civil litigation. He is perhaps best known for his many years of work on the IP Division of the SPC, where I had numerous discussions with him on a range of IP issues, including patent litigation and the role of specialized IP courts.

Judges Tao and Luo, in public and in private, were both quick to point out their close relationship with the IP community. As slides 7- 8 point out, numerous reforms are underway and indeed, many of the reforms that are being contemplated nationwide are now being tried out at the specialized IP courts.

The Judges themselves appear to be part of a modest rule of law “charm offensive”, with a prior stop over in Houston.

(Photo above: Federal Circuit Bar Association President Jim Brookshire with Madame Tao Kaiyuan.)