China report on judicial protection of intellectual property
On April 21, 2022, the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) of China released a report titled Status of Judicial Protection of Intellectual Property Rights in Chinese Courts 2021 (中国法院知识产权司法保护状况（2021年）). Highlights include sections on the increase in the number of IP law cases in 2021; improved trademark protection, including awarding punitive treble damages; and impartial adjudication of foreign-related cases.
China’s Supreme People’s Court (SPC) accepted 4,243 intellectual property cases and concluded 3,557, up 22.28% and 9.11% respectively year on year. Local people’s courts at all levels accepted 550,263 first instance cases and concluded 515,861, up 24.12% and 16.52% respectively from 2020. Among them, 31,618 patent cases were accepted , with a year-on-year increase of 10.98%, 124,716 trademark cases, up 59.62%, 360,489 copyright cases, up 14.99%, 4 015 technology contract cases, up 22.52%, 8,419 competition cases, up 78.26%, and 21,006 other IPR civil disputes with a year-on-year increase of 38.01% . Local people’s courts at all levels accepted 49,084 second instance cases and concluded 45,468, up 14.22 percent and 4.5 percent respectively year on year.
The CPS accepted 2,852 IPR administrative cases and concluded 2,487, up 49.4% and 43.34% from 2020. Local people’s courts at all levels accepted 20,563 administrative cases IPR first instance cases and concluded 19,342, up 11.37% and 7.80% from 2020 respectively. Among them, 1,810 administrative patent files were accepted, with a year-on-year increase of 27.73%; 18,734 administrative trademark files, up 9.97%; and 19 copyright cases with an increase of 7 cases. Local people’s courts at all levels accepted 8,215 intellectual property administrative cases at second instance and concluded 7,418, up 34.85% and 19.97% respectively from 2020. Among them, 5,636 cases were upheld, judgments in 1,597 cases were quashed, 1 case sent back to trial, 145 cases withdrawn, 11 cases dismissed and 28 cases resolved by other means.
Local people’s courts at all levels accepted 6,276 first instance criminal IPR infringement cases and concluded 6,046, up 13.2% and 9.53% respectively year on year. Among them, 5,869 trademark infringement cases and 333 copyright infringement cases were accepted, an increase of 12.8% and 9.54% respectively. Among these first instance criminal cases, there were 2,558 trademark infringement cases, up 13.19%; 2,623 cases of sale of goods with counterfeit trademarks (+3.76%); 476 illegally making or selling illegally made trademark logos (up 20.51%); 313 criminal copyright infringement cases (up 14.65%); 15 criminal cases of sale of infringing copies (increase of 2); and 61 criminal trade secret infringement cases (increase of 16). Local people’s courts at all levels accepted 1,050 second instance criminal IP infringement cases and concluded 997, up 20.83% and 16.74% respectively.
The CPS noted that local people’s courts in different jurisdictions have also pointed to the deterrent effect of punitive damages and criminal penalties for trademark infringement. Courts in Guangdong Province awarded treble punitive damages in 2 trademark infringement cases, with damages of RMB 10 million and RMB 30 million respectively; and a court in Guizhou Province and a court in Heilongjiang Province imposed a fine of RMB 21 million and RMB 21.25 million respectively in two trademark infringement cases.
The SPC noted that in addition to hosting numerous forums, it “held in favor of the total amount of RMB 20 million in damages claimed by the foreign rights holder in the patent infringement case for the invention of the “locking intramedullary nail” on the basis of refusing to submit the counterfeiter’s books of accounts. Therefore, the legitimate rights and interests of foreign litigants were fully protected. China has increasingly become a reliable and worthy choice trust for international intellectual property disputes.
The full report is available here: SPCReport.
© 2022 Schwegman, Lundberg & Woessner, PA All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 112