2019 Press Conference on the Judicial Protection of Intellectual Property by SHPC

 2019-08-07  104

In honor of the upcoming 19th World Intellectual Property Day, Shanghai High People’s Court (hereinafter referred to as Shanghai High Court - “SHPC”) held the 2019 press conference on the judicial protection of intellectual property on April 22, 2019. At the conference, SHPC released the Chinese and English versions of the White Paper on the Intellectual Property Trials by Courts of Shanghai in 2018 (hereinafter referred to as the White Paper), the “Top Ten Cases on Judicial Protection of IP Rights by Shanghai Courts in 2018” (hereinafter referred to as the Top Ten Cases), the “Typical Cases on Strengthening IP Protection by Shanghai Courts in 2018” (hereinafter referred to as the Typical Cases), and Shanghai Intellectual Property Court’s Achievements in IP Protection (2018).

Zhang Bin, Member of the Party Committee and Vice President of Shanghai High Court, Li Shulan, Vice President of Shanghai Intellectual Property Court (“SIPC”), and Liu Junhua, Chief of IP Tribunal of Shanghai High Court, attended the conference and answered questions from reporters. Sun Jing, spokesperson of Shanghai High Court, presided over the conference. The officials from the embassies and consulates of the United States, the EU countries, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and other countries in Shanghai, the representatives of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China and some other foreign non-corporate economic organizations, and major media outlets attended the conference.

According to the press conference, the courts across Shanghai accepted 22,680 intellectual property cases and closed 22,121 of them in 2018, up 43.46% and 40.76% respectively from the previous year. On average, each judge closed 315.34 cases, up 45.66% from the previous year. Of all the cases, the disputes over copyright, unfair competition, franchise contract, trademark right, and patent right have increased significantly.

Of the copyright disputes in the first instance, those over the infringement of the right of communication through information network and those over computer software increased by 69.73% year on year, indicating that the cultural and creative industry and the network information industry are booming in Shanghai but are facing risks and challenges in copyright protection and management. The unfair competition disputes in the first instance increased by 319% year on year, indicating that the continuously innovated business models and the increasingly vibrant market activities are crying for normalized market competition behaviors. The franchise contract disputes in the first instance increased by 94% year on year, indicating that there are many non-standard operations in the franchise business model. The trademark right disputes and the patent disputes increased by 60.29% and 31.61% respectively year on year, indicating that the conventional trademark cases and patented technology cases are seeing an overall increase with the further social and economic development, especially with the continuous advance of Shanghai’s campaign to become a hi-tech innovation center.

Among the large number of intellectual property cases involving large amount of money or great social impact, and those new types of great difficulty and complexity that were tried by Shanghai courts, one case was selected into the “Top Ten Cases on Judicial Protection of IP Rights by Chinese Courts in 2018,” six were selected into the “50 Typical Cases on Judicial Protection of IP Rights by Chinese Courts in 2018,” and three were selected into the Gazette of the Supreme People’s Court.

At the press conference, Liu Junhua gave a detailed introduction to the “Top Ten Cases” and the “Typical Cases.” They were chosen by a judge panel of fifteen experts through voting from a number of candidate cases recommended by SHPC after selecting the candidate cases from all the cases put forward by Shanghai courts. The parties involved include the enterprises from Germany, France, Denmark, Japan, the UK, the US, etc., and domestic entities, which fully demonstrates that Shanghai courts give equal protection of legitimate rights and interests to both Chinese and foreign parties, and are doing their best to make Shanghai a preferred place of litigation for intellectual property disputes trusted by both domestic and foreign parties.

According to the press conference, in 2018, SHPC took the initiative and put forward some new measures in sync with international standards for the judicial service of intellectual property, and released the Opinions on Strengthening Judicial Protection of Intellectual Property.

In terms of increasing civil compensation, Shanghai courts focused on developing the evidence review system conducive to finding out the infringement facts, the damage compensation system conducive to realizing the value of intellectual property, and the case judging system conducive to the timely and effective resolution of disputes. In the two disputes over the infringement of computer software copyright where the Dassault Systèmes S.A. sued Shanghai TJ Innova Engineering & Technology Co., Ltd. and the Dassault sued Shanghai ZHIDOU Electric Vehicle Co., Ltd., SIPC awarded RMB 15.05 million and 9 million respectively to the plaintiffs.

In terms of severely punishing the criminal offences concerning intellectual property, Shanghai courts keep strengthening criminal justice of intellectual property. Among the penalties imposed, 33 people were sentenced to imprisonment for 3-7 years, up 73.68% from the previous year. In the case where the defendant Wang Hong committed the crime of selling the counterfeit products of the “MCM” registered trademark, Wang Hong was sentenced to three years and six months in prison and fined RMB 500,000.

In terms of supervising the administrative enforcement concerning intellectual property, Shanghai courts keep strengthening the judicial review of specific administrative behaviors. Let’s take the series of cases where Chen Xiaolong and others refused to accept the administrative punishment for trademark infringement imposed by the defendant Shanghai Pudong New Area Intellectual Property Office as an example. The combined case has been the first lawsuit of intellectual property administration where the Pudong Intellectual Property Office responded as a defendant since it began the exploration in the reform of combining patent, trademark and copyright administration in one. The trial of this case proves that the people’s courts have fully played the leading role of judicial authorities, and fulfilled their functions of supporting by law the administrative bodies’ active duty performing, comprehensively safeguarding the order of intellectual property administration, and effectively enhancing the administrative protection of intellectual property.

According to the press conference, in 2018, SHPC formulated the Opinions of Shanghai High People’s Court on How to Fulfill Trial Function and Create Good Legal Environment for Enterprisers’ Innovation and Entrepreneurship; SIPC released the Trial of IP Cases Involving China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone by Shanghai Intellectual Property Court; Shanghai Pudong Court released the Five Years’ Work in Strengthening Judicial Protection of Intellectual Property and Serving Development of China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone; and Shanghai courts of all levels had actively supported the China International Import Expo and further optimized the business environment.

Also, Shanghai courts had actively implemented the task of judicial reform, deepened the work of combining the civil, administrative and criminal trial of intellectual property cases in one, revoked the intellectual property tribunals of Shanghai Huangpu Court and Shanghai Minhang Court, and done the utmost in the post-reform work of restructuring the trial bodies and putting the unfinished cases in order brought about by the centralized jurisdiction of the intellectual property cases of the Pudong, Xuhui, Yangpu and Putuo courts. In the meantime, Shanghai courts had actively explored and advanced the trial pattern reform of IP courts, improved the system of finding out technical facts, promoted the combination of SHPC’s pool of technical experts on intellectual property and SIPC’s pool of technical advisors, and established a shared system for finding out technical facts of technical cases for all Shanghai courts to serve Shanghai courts’ trial of technical intellectual property cases.

When reporting on the trial of intellectual property cases in 2018 of SIPC, Li Shulan said that SIPC had been actively building a new system for intellectual property protection, deepening the diversified dispute resolution system, introducing the prior ruling system, improving the diversified system for finding out technical facts, and expanding the intelligent auxiliary system for case handling. In the intellectual property cases involving multiple disciplines or multiple fields, SIPC had been actively exploring the system of coordination and interconnection among technical investigators, technical consultants, expert jurors and appraisers to effectively improve the finding out of technical facts.

According to the press conference, in 2018, Shanghai courts had actively carried out international exchange and judicial promotion, with their influence growing every day. Statistics show that SHPC and SIPC had received nearly 300 visitors in 16 groups who came for exchange visits, including the judges of the German Federal Court of Justice, the consuls of the US Consulate General in Shanghai, the chief representative in Shanghai of the US-China Business Council, the consuls of the Korean Consulate General in Shanghai, and the Japan-China Intellectual Property Communication Council of the Japanese Association for the Promotion of International Trade. In the meantime, Shanghai courts had sent four selected senior intellectual property judges in four different times to the US, the EU, Germany and other countries for intellectual property exchange and learning the advanced international practices in intellectual property protection.

In April 2018, SHPC and Tongji University signed the Cooperation Framework Agreement on Strengthening Legal Education and Judicial Practice of Intellectual Property. The Tongji University is the first and only university in China to cooperate with the WIPO by means of a joint graduate training program. It is also the only institution that undertakes the “Belt and Road” Initiative Chinese Government Intellectual Property Scholarship Program of the Ministry of Education and the State Intellectual Property Office. SHPC and the Tongji University have carried out in-depth cooperation by establishing four platforms for the upgrading of the judges’ comprehensive research capability, the practice and training of college students, the external exchange and the sharing of quality resources respectively.

In November 2018, SHPC held a discussion on the legal protection of business secrets. Professor Martin Senftleben, Director of the Kooijmans Institute for Law and Governance of the VU University Amsterdam of the Netherlands, gave a special speech on “The Status and Latest Developments of EU’s Legal Protection of Business Secrets.”

Zhang Bin said at the press conference that Shanghai courts should effectively implement the judicial policy of “judicial leadership, strict protection, classified implementation, and appropriate proportion,” enhance the cultivation of an international and professional team of intellectual property trial, focus on optimizing the law-based business environment, further boost the authority and influence of the intellectual property trial in Shanghai, do the best to build Shanghai courts into a model and the preferred litigation places of intellectual property protection, and provide the first-class judicial service and support for Shanghai to upgrade its urban capacity and core competitiveness and to become a global city with the best law-based environment.