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BIC data rights circuit tribunal at ETDA holds 1st open hearing on data infringement case

english.bjinternetcourt.gov.cn | Updated: 2024-04-26


On April 23, the Beijing Internet Court (BIC)'s data rights circuit tribunal at the Beijing Economic-Technological Development Area (ETDA) held a public hearing on a case involving the infringement of works' information network dissemination rights. This is the first case on data disputes heard since the tribunal's establishment. More than 20 representatives, including staff from over 10 departments of the ETDA management committee such as the sci-tech innovation bureau, the business operation cooperation bureau and the administrative review and approval bureau, as well as from the ETDA lawyers association, attended the hearing.


The plaintiff, an information technology company based in Tianjin, stated that its legal document data falls within the scientific creation, aimed at providing users with contract text matching their own scenarios to help them prevent risks. The data is based on lawyers' professional wisdom, is presented in textual form and is replicable, thus should constitute the plaintiff's copyrighted written works.

Defendants A and B, both being sci-tech companies based in Beijing, provided a "generating legal contract" module on the infringing website involved in the case, and offered "contract template" services to the public via mobile APPs, mobile webpages and WeChat service accounts, directly utilizing the plaintiff's legal document data without authorization. The behaviors constituted malicious infringement of the plaintiff's legitimate rights and interests. Therefore, both defendants should bear civil liabilities, including ceasing the infringement and compensating for the losses, as the plaintiff claimed.


The two defendants argued that the content in question did not constitute works as stipulated in the Copyright Law. The content and its arrangement were similar to most other contract templates, failing to meet the originality requirements set by the Copyright Law and therefore should not be protected by the law. Also, the evidence presented in the case could not prove that the plaintiff was the rights holder of the documents in question. Therefore the plaintiff lacked the legal basis for its claims, said the defendants, requesting the court to dismiss the plaintiff's claims. 


After thorough investigations, debates and questioning during the trial, and fully considering the facts and legal opinions from both sides, the court rendered an immediate judgement, determining that the two defendants had infringed upon the plaintiff's right to information network dissemination by providing contract texts belonging to the plaintiff on their websites. Based on the sales amounts and quantities displayed on the defendants' websites, the court ordered the two defendants to compensate the plaintiff for economic losses in the amount of 1,214,400 yuan ($167,584.7) and reasonable expenses of 100,000 yuan. The case is currently in the appellate period, and the judgment of the first instance has not yet taken effect.

The establishment of the data rights circuit tribunal at the Beijing ETDA is based on the needs of judicial protection of data-related rights in the area, and also a major measure of the BIC to advance the construction of the Beijing pilot demonstration zone of data infrastructure systems.