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China’s Supreme People’s Court Releases Report on the Judicial Reform of Chinese Courts (2013-2022)

On February 21, 2023, China’s Supreme People’s Court (SPC) released the Report on the Judicial Reform of Chinese Courts (2013-2022) (中国法院的司法改革(2013—2022)). With respect to intellectual property, the Report discusses the establishing of new mechanisms (e.g., patent linkage), establishing of the IP Tribunal of the Supreme People’s Court and the establishing of IP Courts and IP Tribunals in several jurisdictions, etc. However, note that any judicial reform will occur in a Chinese context. For example, the State Council stated  a few days later that we should “oppose and resist Western erroneous views such as “constitutional government”, “separation of three powers”, and “independence of the judiciary” in the “Opinions on Strengthening Legal Education and Legal Theory Research in the New Era.”

Relevant excerpts from the Report follow:

Serving the Innovation-Driven Development. In November 2017, the Central Leading Group for Comprehensively Deepening Reforms approved the Opinions on Several Issues concerning Strengthening Reform and Innovation in the Field of Intellectual Property Adjudication. The Opinions aimed to improve the mechanism for validity proceedings and evidence rules that are both tailored for the characteristics of intellectual property adjudication and to establish a mechanism for damages which reflects the reasonable value of the infringed intellectual property. To provide strict protection for inventions and scientific and technological innovations, the SPC promulgated guiding opinions and issued judicial interpretations on properly handling administrative cases involving rejecting and revoking patents and patent infringement disputes. To safeguard people’s lives and health, the SPC implemented the patent linkage system of medicine. By adequately handling a series of cases involving cutting-edge innovations, including 5G, bio-pharmaceuticals, high-end equipment manufacturing, new material, and new energy, the SPC provided strong protection for an incentive to innovations, thus benefiting the upgrade of technologies and industries. Meanwhile, the SPC correctly applied the Scientific and Technological Progress Law of the People’s Republic of China and the Promoting the Transformation of Scientific and Technological Achievements Law of the People’s Republic of China, and properly handled innovation related disputes over-identification of inventors, transfer of rights, evaluation of IP and distribution of benefits, as well as employee-inventors’ right and interests in accordance with the law. Regarding agricultural technology achievements, the SPC strengthened the protection by formulating judicial interpretations on cases involving the rights of new varieties of plants and placing more emphasis on germplasm protection. The Intellectual Property Tribunal of the SPC, along with 4 IP courts, concluded a series of significant IP cases that clarified adjudication rules with global impact. These cases effectively protected the intellectual property rights of China’s core technologies in key fields, maintained competition order in emerging industries, and thus promoted innovation-driven development.

Strengthening the Specialization of Intellectual Property Courts
and Tribunals. On January 1, 2019, the SPC established the Intellectual Property (“IP”) Tribunal following the decision of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (“NPC”). The IP Tribunal has centralized jurisdiction over appeals on technology-related IP cases and monopoly
cases, forming a national adjudicating mechanism for IP appeals. It has accepted over 11,000 cases, proving the three-year pilot has achieved great effect. Since 2014, four IP Courts have been successively established in Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Hainan Free Trade Port, with more than 100,000 cases accepted. Also, IP tribunals were established in 27 Intermediate People’s Courts to optimize the layout of IP judicial specialization nationwide. These tribunals primarily exercise jurisdiction over technology-intensive IP cases. These specialized courts and tribunals have concluded a large number of influential IP cases, elevated judicial quality and efficiency, promoted uniform law application, and facilitated the “innovation-driven development” strategy. In addition, the SPC issued judicial interpretations and documents, which refined the jurisdiction of IP courts and combined the trial of civil, criminal, and administrative IP cases in the same division, referred to as the “3-in-1” mechanism. Also, the SPC issued normative documents on the appointment of judges, participation of technical investigation officers in litigious activities and other issues, to provide better guidance for nationwide IP adjudication. A specialized IP adjudication system with Chinese characteristics, including jurisdiction, case trial, and procedure rules, has been formed based on the current IP judicial establishments: the IP division and the IP Tribunal of the SPC, the four specialized IP Courts, and the above IP tribunals.

The full report is available here (Chinese and English).

Principal, and Director of the China Intellectual Property Practice

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