SPC’s Annual Report Gives A Passing Nod to IP

SPC President Zhou Qiang issued his 2015 Report on the Work of the the Supreme People’s Court to the National People’s Congress recently, and IP didn’t get much of coverage. However the IP cases continued to climb – by about 10%.  More data is usually released around April 26 – World IP Day.

The principle paragraph devoted to IP, which curiously links IP to antimonopoly law is:

加大知识产权司法保护力度。  依法制裁侵犯知识产权和制售假冒伪劣商品行为,维护公平竞争的市场秩序,保护知识产权,促进创新驱动发展。  各级法院审结一审知识产权案件11万件,同比上升10%。  审结奇虎与腾讯公司涉不正当竞争案和垄断案,促进规范互联网领域竞争秩序。 

”Increase judicial protection of intellectual property rights. Sanction IPR infringement and selling counterfeit and shoddy goods according to law, and maintain fair and competitive market order and protect intellectual property rights, and promote innovation-driven development. Each level of IPR courts of first instance concluded a total of 110,000 cases last year, which was an increase of 10% over the prior year. We concluded the case involving Qihoo and Tencent involving unfair competition and monopoly, and promoted order in the area of Internet competition.”

In addition, President Zhou noted amongst the year’s accomplishments:

设立知识产权法院。  根据全国人大常委会的决定,在北京、上海、广州设立知识产权法院,审理知识产权民事和行政案件,落实国家知识产权战略,发挥司法保护知识产权的重要作用.

“Establishment of IP courts. According to the decision of the NPC Standing Committee, we set up intellectual property courts in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou to hear civil and administrative cases of intellectual property rights, to implement the national intellectual property strategy, and play an important role in the judicial protection of intellectual property.”

Another interesting element: China handled 2,872,000 commercial cases last year, of which only 5,804 involved foreigners. In addition, the Chinese courts handled 6,014 cases of international judicial assistance. It appears that foreigners in all areas continue to play a relatively small role in China’s commercial litigation.

Susan Finder did an excellent blog on the report: “Supreme People’s Court president says court reforms in “deep water area.”

SPC President’s Report on Adjudication Highlights Some Key IPR Judicial Developments

SPC President Zhou Qiang spelled out some key IPR judicial developments in report to the National People’s Congress and Chinese People’s Consultative Congress on March 10.  A full text of the report is found on the excellent website of former SPC Chief IPR Judge Jiang Zhipei (picture below).  Here are some excerpts:

As a general matter litigation of all types increased in China in 2013, with case filings at local courts increasing at 7.4% or 14,217,000 cases of first instance in China during 2013.   By comparison, Zhou Qiang reported total IP cases at approximately 100,000.  If this number reflects civil, criminal and administrative cases, as well as IPR-related cases, such as antimonopoly law or crimes involving fake and shoddy goods, it would suggest that there has been no significant increase in IP litigation.  If this number is based on civil cases only, then there has been an increase in the civil IP docket, from about 83,350 in 2013.

Total foreign-related commercial cases numbered only 5,364, out of 3,957,000 commercial cases.   It is humbling to think that in 2012, the last date for which we have comprehensive data, there were only 1,429 and 1,349 civil and administrative foreign related IPR cases, respectively.   Foreign-related IPR cases of all types likely remain a small fraction of the Chinese court docket.

In terms of overall transparency, the court continues its effort to increase judicial transparency, as I have previously noted.  In his report, SPC President Zhou Qiang noted that 3,858 SPC decisions have been placed on line, as have 1,646,000 local court decisions.

The court also notes that one of its goals for 2014 is to promote the establishment of IP court(s), and that it is looking at how to experiment in managing resources for courts below the provincial level, in order to create a degree of  “suitable separation” from local administrative influence to improve the management system of judicial personnel.    Such efforts, if successful, could reduce the amount of local protectionism.Image

Chief Judge Jiang Zhipei, Former USPTO Acting Director Teresa Rea, Mark Cohen (the author) and Shi Lan.