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BIC's top 10 typical cases in 2023- (2021) Jing 0491 Min Chu No. 51722

english.bjinternetcourt.gov.cn | Updated: 2024-03-06


To fully tap the role of typical cases in establishing adjudication rules, improving trial quality and promoting comprehensive governance of cyberspace, the Beijing Internet Court (BIC) selected the "Top 10 Typical Cases in 2023", ones with demonstrative significance in advancing law-based cyberspace governance.

(2021) Jing 0491 Min Chu No. 51722

A case on protecting the reputation right of private enterprises/ entrepreneurs


The private economy is a major force for promoting Chinese modernization, and private enterprises with scientific and technological innovation capabilities are an important force for transforming development mode, adjusting industrial structure and changing growth momentum. Private entrepreneurs, especially those who serve as role models, are crucial to the development of their enterprises. In this case, the involved tech company is a well-known private enterprise in the high-tech field. Derogatory remarks against the company and its founder and legal representative not only affected its normal production and operation activities, but also compromised public opinion regarding sci-tech innovation in the private economy. Compared with traditional media, the internet self-media spreads information faster to a wider audience, and has a greater impact on the operation and development of enterprises. Negative remarks may quickly put an enterprise in a disadvantaged situation, and may lead to the loss of opportunity for fair competition in investment and transaction. This may even affect the healthy development of the private economy and the public opinion environment for innovation and entrepreneurship.

When the court determined that the online remarks against the enterprise and its founder constituted a high possibility of infringement, it timely applied the injunction system according to the law. It emphasized that when internet self-media supervises the operation of enterprises, it should speak honestly and objectively, limit the growth of derogatory remarks and their negative consequences, strictly prohibit extreme remarks that intentionally mislead the public  or deliberately attract attention, and mitigate and eliminate impacts. By doing so, the court offered effective judicial protection over the reputation right of  enterprises and entrepreneurs. 

Case summary:

The company involved was a high-tech company founded by a well-known private entrepreneur, who was also its legal representative. The company's trademark is well-known, and its products, including mobile phones and televisions, have won numerous awards. The company was a well-known sci-tech innovation enterprise in China. The respondent was a self-media professional practitioner specializing in capital market research of sci-tech companies, and had a certain influence in the industry. The respondent posted a number of review articles and videos with a lot of derogatory language against the company and its founder on multiple online platforms. Deeming that the respondent's behavior infringed upon the company’s reputation right, the company sued the respondent at the Beijing Internet Court (BIC), requesting the court to order the respondent to cease the infringement, issue an apology and provide compensation for losses.

The respondent argued that the company was not a qualified subject to file the lawsuit on the one hand, and on the other hand reporting about the company was part of his daily work. All his published articles about the company were written based on publicly available information, and did not constitute insult or defamation against the company or its founder.

On March 30, 2022, the company filed an injunction application with the BIC during the litigation time frame, requesting the respondent to immediately delete certain accused articles and videos. The BIC organized a hearing on the application on April 3, 2022.

Key points:

- The BIC reviewed the content of the articles and videos involved according to law and accurately determined the high possibility of infringement on the reputation right of the company.

It examined in detail the contents of the articles and videos involved, identifying them as mainly comments on the business model, corporate risks and corporate values of the company and on its legal representative, which comprised derogatory remarks. The BIC held that the articles and videos involved had aroused widespread public attention, and that remarks made regarding the legal representative's duties directly affected the company. Based on the facts and in accordance with the law, the BIC concluded that the remarks were clearly directed towards the company, which could potentially reduce its social credibility and thus infringed upon the company's reputation right.

- The BIC recognized the urgency and necessity of the injunction application, and fully tapped the emergency relief function of the preservation system in protecting the reputation right of the private enterprises.

The articles and videos involved were published online, and spread quickly to a wide range of people. Furthermore, the respondent continued to publish articles against the company during the litigation period, attracting further attention and aggravating the situation. During the hearing, the BIC promptly accessed the links to the articles and videos onsite, and determined that if the failure to immediately cease dissemination would severely affect the company‘s reputation and normal production activities, causing irreparable damage.

Details of the judgment:

Given that the company provided one million yuan as a guarantee, the BIC issued the injunction according to law, having accurately determined its urgency and necessity, and ruled that the respondent should immediately delete some of the infringing articles and videos. Judgment enforcement was completed on Aug 2, 2022, eliminating the adverse impact on the company and its founder.