National-level IP Court to Hear Patent Disputes

Source: China Daily

China will improve the protection of intellectual property rights in patent disputes by setting up a national-level IP court. The new court will streamline the appeal process by allowing litigants to bypass top provincial courts, the Supreme People's Court said on Saturday.

Preparations for the new IP Court, a division of the SPC, are complete, "and it's to be open and in operation in Beijing soon", Luo Dongchuan, the top court's vicepresident, said at a news conference.

The IP Court will handle appeals of civil and administrative cases related to patents. Criminal cases are rare.

Litigants who disagree with rulings made in intermediate people's courts at the city or prefecture levels, or that are made by specialized IP courts, can appeal to the top court directly instead of first appealing to provincial high people's courts, said Luo, who is also the chief judge of the new IP Court.

"The changes to patent-related litigation procedures will help prevent inconsistency of legal application and improve the quality and efficiency of trials," Luo said.

Many patent disputes, including those regarding inventions, new plant varieties, integrated circuit designs, computer software and monopolies, not only require more technological expertise, but also bring challenges in hearings, he said.

"The IP court will also raise the quality of hearings in difficult patent-related cases, nurture a favorable legal environment for technological innovation and create a better business environment for domestic and international enterprises," he said.

Wang Chuang, deputy chief judge of the IP court, said the new division has courtrooms, a litigation service center, a technical investigation department and a coordination office.

About 30 judges selected from IP tribunals in 10 provinces will work for the court. About 30 percent of them have science and engineering study background, the top court said.

"The new court will make full use of technologies, including big data and artificial intelligence, to help judges efficiently resolve IP cases," Wang said. "Litigants will also enjoy more convenience. For example, they can submit arguments and read materials online."

In October, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the top national legislative body, adopted a resolution on IP appeal procedures at its bimonthly session, and preparations for the new court began.

In 2014, the China set up three intermediate-level courts specializing in hearing IP cases in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, Guangdong province, to take on the rapid growth of disputes.

In 2017, Chinese courts heard more than 200,000 IP cases, up 40.4 percent year-on-year, and double the number in 2013, according to the top court.