IPR cases jump as awareness increases

By Zhang Yan and Wang Jingqiong (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-12-25 09:53
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Courts hear 64 percent more trials about intellectual property rights

BEIJING - The number of intellectual property rights (IPR) trials involving foreign companies is on the rise in China as the country cracks down on violations, says a senior official with the top court.

Kong Xiangjun, president of the Intellectual Property Tribunal under the Supreme People's Court (SPC), said a total of 1,057 foreign-related IPR infringement cases were handled by Chinese courts in the first 11 months of the year.

"And most of those IPR cases involved multinational companies in China," Kong told China Daily in an exclusive interview.

IPR cases jump as awareness increases

However, he stressed that not all cases involved foreign companies complaining about infringements from Chinese businesses. Some were instances of domestic enterprises taking action against multinationals.

With stronger awareness of the need to protect IPR, more domestic firms are now filing lawsuits against foreign companies to protect their patents, he said.

In total, 39,913 IPR cases, involving 6.3 billion yuan ($951 million), were heard in Chinese courts between January and November - a year-on-year jump of 64 percent, according to the SPC.

Among the cases, 23,304 involved copyright infringement, 5,273 were connected to patent infringement and 7,617 trademark infringement. Patent and trademark infringements accounted for the majority of IPR cases involving multinational companies, Kong said.

"The trials for some infringement cases that involve the IPR of multinational enterprises and that may even affect their survival have been drawing a lot of attention," Kong said.

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According to media reports, multinational giants including BMW, Schneider Electric, Microsoft Group, HP, Sony, and Pfizer have all been involved in IPR cases in China.

Kong said Chinese courts protect foreign enterprises as vigilantly as they do domestic businesses.

Statistics from the SPC suggest that about half of foreign-related IPR cases were won by foreign firms. The Beijing No 1 Intermediate People's Court said in early December that the claims of foreign firms were given support or partial support in about 55.2 percent of the 2,691 foreign-related IPR cases handled by the court between 2006 and October 2010.

Cao Yin contributed to this story.