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November 2018
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New Intellectual Property Tribunal in the Supreme People’s Court

The Decision on Certain Issues Concerning the Litigation Procedure of Intellectual Property Cases, such as Patents ("Decision") was adopted upon deliberation on October 26, 2018, at the Sixth Session of the 13th National People's Congress Standing Committee. According to the Decision, the Supreme People's Court will establish a new Intellectual Property Tribunal by the end of 2018.

 

Currently, appellate cases for intellectual property are referred to the High People's Courts. According to the Decision, certain appellate cases, both civil and administrative, will now be heard by the new Intellectual Property Tribunal of the Supreme People's Court of PRC. This change does not mean that all kinds of appellate cases will be heard by the IP Tribunal; only a small handful of these cases, such as certain patent cases, of a "strong, technical and professional nature," will be heard. However, the procedures of the Supreme People's Court, the two-trial final review system, and the court organization system will not change.

 

Patent cases are highly complex and oftentimes challenging. In the current trial system, issues regarding the validity matters are resolved via an administrative invalidation procedure, while IP infringement disputes are heard in the civil and criminal courts. Patent appeals can suffer from a lack of uniformity as they are currently heard by the High People's Courts of each province. Without stare decisis, and a less than sophisticated case reporting system, as well as the sheer enormity of the Chinese legal system, significant patent cases that affect the nation do not always receive the attention they deserve. The re-routing of significant intellectual property cases, defined as cases of a "strong, technical and professional" nature, is intended to elevate the quality and consistency of these high-profile decisions.

 

The significant responsibility of the Intellectual Property Tribunal of the Supreme People's Court to hear appellate cases is established by the Constitution and the Organic Law of the People's Court. This second-instance jurisdiction over civil and administrative cases, such as patent and other intellectual property cases with strong technical features, are intended to achieve the following policy goals:

1. Unify standards of adjudication by transferring validity and infringement decisions into the same court. This is intended to provide a consistent resolution of important questions which may hinder technological innovation.

2. Increase the judicial protection of intellectual property rights;

3. Improve the quality and efficiency of intellectual property judgments by enhancing the specialization of intellectual property hearings, simplify procedures and professionalize staff;

4. Effectively enhance judicial credibility.

 

We believe this is a strong step in the right direction for the growth of the Chinese patent and judicial system. The introduction of a system of IP courts and tribunals, now coupled with an IP Tribunal at the Supreme People's Court, is recognition by the Chinese government of the importance of intellectual property and its critical contribution to the growth of the nation. The centralization of IP cases can only benefit intellectual property rights owners and increase the predictability of IP rights. We look forward to representing clients before this new Tribunal.

 

The original text is as below for your reference:

 

Decision of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress on Several Issues Relating to Litigation Procedures for Cases Involving Patent and Other Intellectual Property Rights

(Adopted at the Sixth Session of the Thirteenth National People's Congress Standing Committee of the People's Republic of China on October 26, 2018)

 

With a view to unifying the ruling/judgment standards for cases involving Intellectual Property rights, further strengthening the judicial protection of Intellectual Property rights, optimizing the legal environment for scientific and technological innovations, and accelerating the implementation of the innovation-driven development strategy, this Decision is hereby made as follows:

 

1. If a party concerned, dissatisfied with the judgment or ruling of the first instance made on a civil case of Intellectual Property rights that is of a strong professional and technical nature, such as those relating to invention patents, utility model patents, new plant varieties, layout designs of integrated circuits, technical know-how, computer software, monopoly, etc., files an appeal, the Supreme People's Court shall hear the case.

 

2. If a party concerned, dissatisfied with the judgment or ruling of the first instance made on an administrative case of Intellectual Property rights that is of a strong professional and technical nature, such as those relating to patents, new plant varieties, layout designs of integrated circuits, technical know-how, computer software, monopoly, etc., files an appeal, the Supreme People's Court shall hear the case.

 

3. With respect to a legally effective judgment, ruling or mediation agreement of the first instance made on the aforesaid case, if a retrial or protest is filed in accordance with the law, in which the procedure for trial supervision may be applied, the Supreme People's Court shall hear the case. Furthermore, the Supreme People's Court may also direct the people's court at a lower level to conduct a retrial.

 

4. The Supreme People's Court shall report the implementation of this Decision to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress after three years of implementation thereof.

 

5. This Decision shall come into force as of January 1, 2019.

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