Monday, March 30, 2009

Revamp to streamline IPR battles [China]

Special tribunals will be set up to handle intellectual property rights (IPR) disputes and an appeal court in a bid to improve efficiency, the Supreme People's Court (SPC) announced yesterday. The move will see complex cases relating to civil, administrative and criminal matters dealt with by a "unified" tribunal, rather than spread across different ones, according to the newly issued Guideline on Implementing the Compendium of National Intellectual Property Strategy. "If an IPR case involved two or three disputes it had to be heard in different tribunals, which was repetitious, wasted procedural costs and compromised judicial efficiency," said Kong Xiangjun, deputy chief judge of IPR tribunals for the SPC.

Pilot schemes for special tribunals have been running since the mid-1990s, including one high court, nine intermediate courts and 14 district courts, he said, with the Pudong District People's Court in Shanghai the first in 1995. A typical case there involved Shanghai Razor Blade Co Ltd, part of the Gillette Company, which had several disputes over infringements on its trademark with local businesses and government departments. The court was able to employ one tribunal to hear all the grievances, saving time and money. "A unified tribunal improves efficiency and makes full use of the expertise of our IPR tribunal staff," said Chen Huizhen, chief of the Pudong court's IPR tribunals.

The guideline released by the SPC also states it will look to "set up an IPR appeal court" to deal with invalid patent and trademark affirmation disputes, while Jiang Zhipei, vice-president of the IPR association of the China Law Society, said the SPC may establish such a court in Beijing. "Some disputes, especially the affirmation of patents and trademarks, feature highly specialized and sometimes international elements that are often too challenging for local courts to handle," Jiang told China Daily. An appellate court will unify standards in judicial practice, particularly patent infringements and the granting of trademark rights, he said, adding: "It will also help save costs for small and medium-sized enterprises in maintaining IP rights and create a sound environment for innovation."

The global financial crisis has made infringements more complex, with some enterprises being forced to cut budgets for IP protection. Chinese courts concluded 27,876 IPR-related cases, up 32.6 percent year-on-year, according to a work report by Chief Justice Wang Shengjun this month.

Source: China Daily

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