Supreme People's Court calls for boost to efficiency of IP trials
The Chinese Supreme People's Court has requested that the courts at various levels calculate the amount of compensation for damages in a more scientific and logical manner, offer substantive solutions to disputes, and adopt preservation measures to provide rights owners with timely protection and prevent the abuse of litigation rights.
The Third National Work Conference on IP Rights-Related Judicial Trials was held on March 21 and 22 2013 in Xi’an. Xi Xiaoming, the vice president of the Supreme People's Court, asserted that the nation’s judicial system is focusing, and will continue to focus, on a protection-oriented approach wtih regard to IP rights.
The courts at various levels are required to enhance the protection of:
- patents by focusing on the safeguard of technical achievements in respect of fundamental and cutting-edge research, emerging industries of strategic significance and the information technology industry, among others;
- trademarks by purifying the market environment and encouraging fair competition. To this end, the courts should:
- reinforce the protection of well-known trademarks; and
- curb infringing activities with regard to commercial marks, such as trademark counterfeiting, pre-emptive trademark registrations, free-riding on a trademark's reputation and copying famous brands;
- copyright by focusing on emerging cultural industries and high-tech fields, such as video games, software and databases, and balancing the interests of the rights owners, the network service providers and the public; and
- competition by combatting acts of unfair competition, such as copying, false advertising, discrediting competitors and violating commercial secrets, and by preventing all types of monopolies.
Xi Xiaoming also noted that the courts at all levels should:
- calculate the amount of compensation for damages in a more scientific and logical manner, based on an economic analysis and a professional assessment. In cases where the defendant is obstructing evidence, the court may base its assessment of the merits of the plaintiff’s claim.
- offer substantive solutions to disputes: the courts should make a ruling in administrative disputes with regard to whether certain IP rights should be annulled, registered or revoked, so that it can serve as clear guidance for the administrative bodies involved.
- adopt preservation measures, where applicable, to provide rights owners with timely protection and prevent the abuse of litigation rights. The courts must reinforce evidence preservation and ex officio evidence collections, and take such measures where applicable.
The Supreme People's Court's approach to the protection of IP rights is very promising and should be welcomed.
The adoption of the principle of 'obstruction of evidence' will help:
- alleviate the burden of proof of rights owners;
- speed up trials; and
- give rights owners a better chance of obtaining compensation for damages.
By offering 'substantive' solutions on issues such as whether a certain IP right should be annulled, registered or revoked, the courts - instead of simply reversing the administrative decision and ordering the administrative body to issue a new decision - may make a clear statement indicating precisely what the revised administrative decision should be. As a result, the courts should have more influence on administrative decisions.
Jiang Nan, Wan Hui Da Law Firm & Intellectual Property Agency, Beijing
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