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Supreme Court tightens IP protection

China Daily | Updated: 2020-04-24


China's top court pledged to harshly punish people who infringe on intellectual property rights, especially those stealing business secrets, to intensify IP protection and promote technological innovation.

The Supreme People's Court issued a guideline on fully strengthening judicial protection of IP rights on Tuesday, ordering courts at all levels to safeguard business secrets, ensure fair competition of enterprises and boost technological creativity by improving the quality of IP-related cases.

Courts nationwide should give heavier criminal punishments to people who steal, threaten or lure others to obtain business secrets and those who seriously damage IP rights by other means, according to the guideline.

A report released by the top court also on Tuesday showed that courts at provincial, city and district levels filed 5,242 IP-related criminal cases last year, up 21 percent year-on-year.

The crimes mainly covered those falsifying registered trademarks, illegally making or selling trademarks and infringing on trade secrets, it said.

"To strictly combat IP-related offenses, we began giving punishments and bigger compensation to the offenders when ruling on cases, in a move to increase infringement cost and protect IP right owners," said Jiang Bixin, vice-president of the top court.

Demanding increasingly intensified efforts in combating the IP-related crimes, he also urged courts across the country to continue crackdowns against improper trademark applications to better regulate the trademark registration by rule of law.

"Registering a trademark is for its use, not for making a deal, so those who seek huge profits through trademark squatting or hoarding must be dealt with," said Lin Guanghai, a judge from the top court.

"Such improper trademark registration seriously violates the principle of good faith and disturbs the market order."

Besides alleviating the problem through rulings, Chinese courts have improved trademark registration information exchanges with IP-related government departments as a joint force to tackle violators, he added.

With fast development of the economy and technology, the country has seen rapid IP growth in recent years, which has also brought a large number of disputes.

According to the top court's report, courts at each level filed more than 481,000 IP-related cases in 2019, most of which were in Beijing, followed by Shanghai and Jiangsu province.

To efficiently solve the booming disputes and improve the quality of case hearings, Yang Boyong, a judge from the Beijing High People's Court, said on Tuesday that they took various measures, including drafting legal documents to unify ruling standards, visiting technology enterprises to understand advanced technology and having seminars with experts to ensure accuracy in the application of the law.

Last year, a national-level IP Court was also established in the capital as a new division under the top court for handling appeals of civil and administrative patent-related cases.

The new court has played a bigger role in streamlining the appeal process by allowing litigants to bypass top provincial courts if they are not happy with rulings made by intermediate courts at city or prefecture levels and also helping prevent inconsistency in legal applications.