My 27 years of trial career
I began my career in court in 1994. The passing 27 years have witnessed my personal development from a green law graduate to an expert in the national trial field and also the innovative reforms that have taken place in the Beijing judicial system.
In August 1993, the Beijing Intermediate People's Court established an intellectual property division, the first one in China. I was lucky to join that excellent team less than a year after its establishment.
At that time, the courtroom was small with very simple decorations. The only ornament was the national emblem hung up high on the wall. At that time, China was developing at a rapid pace in both socioeconomic and cultural aspects but was also infested with piracy. From businesses to ordinary people, they did not have much awareness of legitimate versions, and even thought there would be no problem if the products were counterfeit as long as they were not shoddy.
At that time, China's intellectual property rights protection had barely started. And the IP judges of the first generation worked their way forward in those cubical courts with one ruling after another and pushed for the China's progress in IPR judicial protection.
Several years later, something happened to me that set the coordinates of my life. In 2001, after rounds of selection, I was selected by the Supreme People's Court to study for a master’s degree at the London University in the UK. In my first meeting with my professor, he questioned the IPR protection in China when he learned that I was a Chinese judge working on IPR trials.
Feeling a sting in my heart, I told him that China's IPR legislation was already in line with international practice. The cutting-edge IPR lawsuits occurring abroad were also happening in China, for which a special IPR tribunal had been established. However, the professor ended the conversation with courtesy.
But I could not help thinking. At that time, there was very little positive coverage on the IPR protection in China, whether in international renowned academic journals or foreign media outlets, which resulted in the misunderstandings of foreign people about China's IPR protection. At that moment, I decided that I will dedicate myself to making our progress seen and our voices heard by our foreign parties and peers.
Since my return to China, I have always taken each case seriously with a sense of mission. During my time at the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court, I have heard some major typical cases including the first case confirming non-infringement of trademark rights in China, the copyright case on the "Bird Nest" construction work and the "Champagne" geographical indication case. I have also spoken as a Chinese judge at many international seminars. After my trial on a patent case of a renowned German automobile brand, a number of foreign auto company representatives came to me on an international conference and told me that it was my judgment on that auto case that reinforced their confidence in investing in China. In 2012, I was awarded by the British Magazine Managing Intellectual Property as one of the 50 Most Influential People in Intellectual Property.
In 2014, China's first specialized court in IPR protection, the Beijing Intellectual Property Court, was established. From there began a new round of entrepreneurship by those first generation IP judges. And now, with the improvement of the IPR legislation system and equitable judicial treatment, China and Beijing in particular has become the preferable choice for many foreign enterprises with IP suits. More importantly, China is growing step by step into an innovation powerhouse boasting more and more high technologies with independent IP rights.
In the past, it was mostly foreign companies suing Chinese companies for rights infringement, but now it is increasing common for Chinese companies to sue foreign companies for infringement. We have heard the patent dispute case of WAPI LAN Access Technology, the case involved patent right of the DJI drone, and the Xiaomi trademark dispute, among others. It is those judgments that have spurred the innovative development of Chinese enterprises. In the last 20 years, I am experiencing the prosperity of my homeland, participating in the course of China's judicial protection of IPR grew out of nothing and also pleased to see that the IPR protection of Chinese enterprises has grown from passive to active, with increasing volume.
In 2018, the Beijing Internet Court was established and I was appointed as judge and vice-president of the court. Once again, I plunged into a whole new entrepreneurial journey. Compared with the little courtrooms when I first joined this profession twenty plus year ago, the internet courtrooms nowadays are so much more advanced. More than two decades later, China's internet industry has realized a historic leap from starting to running and even leading. The new generation judges of the internet courts are shouldering the honorable mission of providing judicial guarantees in building China into a cyberpower and a higher-level of digital justice. The first copyright case on artificial intelligence in the world, the faked view counts case that was included in the work report of the Supreme People’s Court, and the personal information protection case that was adopted into a foreign expert’s research report were all born in those internet courtrooms, and have left their footprints in the process of China's cyberspace governance.
In 2019, 17 years after my graduation from school, I landed in London again. This time, I was no longer a student but as a speaker, as a Chinese representative in this international conference. I stood in front of law practitioners from all over the world and introduced to them the Chinese experience in internet jurisdiction, in English. After my speech, some of the conference participants commented that the China practice is actually at the forefront of the world. In the dozens of foreign receptions received by the Beijing Internet Court, I have heard many expressions of praise such as "Being in the internet court, it is like being in the world of the future."
Looking back at my life journey in the 27 years, I deem myself very lucky. I was among the first generation of pioneers in the three courts in which I worked. I have been positioned on the frontline in my work on both IPR and internet-related trials. At the same time, I feel more grateful, as I know my luck comes from the call of the fast development of my country and the collective mission we share. As part of the collective efforts, I feel sense of pride and satisfaction that I am growing stronger together with my country.
Those who do often succeed, those who travel often arrive. Together with my colleagues, I will continue working like a pioneer and strive to write a new chapter worthy of the new era.
The English version is for reference only. In case of any discrepancy or ambiguity of meaning between this English translation and the Chinese version, the latter shall prevail.