Supreme People's Court reshuffles IP jurisdiction

The Supreme People's Court of China has released a circular entitled "The Rules for Distributing Jurisdiction in Administrative IP Cases Concerning the Grant of Rights and the Recognition of Patents and Trademarks".

The circular indicates that from July 1 2009, the IP tribunals of the Intermediate People's Courts and the High People's Court of Beijing, together with the Supreme People's Court, will have exclusive jurisdiction over first and second-instance administrative actions brought against the relevant administrative department in relation to the grant of rights in a patent, trademark, integrated circuit layout design or new plant variety.
Following China’s entry into the World Trade Organization, a range of amendments was made to the Patent Law and the Trademark Law. One of the key amendments was that final adjudication was transferred from the Patent Re-examination Board and the Trademark Review and Adjudication Board to the relevant civil courts. However, confusion remained as to the distribution of jurisdiction between the IP tribunals and the administrative tribunals, which led to inconsistency in judicial practice.

In 2008 the State Council of China published its Outline of the National Intellectual Property Strategy. One of the most significant elements of the strategy was the proposal to set up a specialized IP trial system for civil, administrative and criminal cases, with a view to:
  • improving the judicial system;
  • optimizing the allocation of judicial resources; and
  • simplifying the procedures to obtain compensation.
The Supreme People's Court issued the new rules in response to the State Council's outline.
The rules represent a significant step towards the establishment of a unified judicial system for the protection of IP rights. As the IP tribunals of the Intermediate People’s Court and the High People’s Court of Beijing have the necessary experience and expertise, it is expected that the change will result in:
  • improved efficiency in the conduct of cases involving IP rights; and
  • a more consistent judicial practice.
Nicole Zhang, Rouse, Beijing

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