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IP court hears more foreign litigants' cases

More than 85 percent of such disputes heard in Beijing involve trademarks

By CAO YIN | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2022-01-27 09:58
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A visitor inquires about IP protection at the China International Fair for Trade in Services in Beijing on Sept 8, 2020. [Photo by Yang Yang/]

The rapid development of China's economy and technology sector has seen a growing number of intellectual property disputes involving foreign litigants handled in Beijing in recent years, a senior judge said.

Du Changhui, vice-president of the Beijing Intellectual Property Court, said that as the country has put more efforts into technological research and innovation, Chinese enterprises have become more competitive in some new high-tech fields, or "become leaders in industries worldwide instead of followers".

The number of foreign-related IP cases filed with the court rose to 4,381 last year from 2,475 in 2015, a year after the court was established.

The Beijing IP court is one of four nationwide that specialize in handling disputes involving intellectual property rights in China.

The country has seen a rising number of such cases in recent years as it intensifies efforts to drive technological development.

The Beijing IP court is the largest of the four courts, and the categories of disputes it hears are the most diverse. Lawsuits against IP-related government departments, which are located in the capital, are also handled by the Beijing court.

More than 85 percent of the foreign-related IP cases in Beijing over the past seven years involved trademark disputes, and about 10 percent dealt with patents, Du said this month.

The remainder were related to computer software, technical contracts, unfair competition regarding technical secrets and new varieties of plants.

The cases involved companies from 90 countries and regions, with the United States accounting for the most, followed by Germany and Japan.

Du said that many of the US litigants came from the sectors of new information technology, high-end equipment manufacturing and biomedicine.

"The cases involving US litigants have shown that Chinese enterprises are spending time and energy on new industrial technology research, as we're also trying to reach international technical standards in this area," he said.

The court's handling of foreign-related IP cases has continued over the past two years despite the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to a number of measures, Du said.

Case filings, trials, announcements on rulings and other litigation services have been put online during the pandemic to give foreign litigants easier access to lawsuits and improve work efficiency through full use of information technology, he said.

Last year, more than 80 percent of foreign-related disputes were heard via video link, he added.

In a recent trademark case, a litigant and a witness, both from the US, participated in a hearing online. After the hearing, they lauded the virtual proceedings, saying they not only helped them avoid being infected by the novel coronavirus, but also prevented their case from being delayed.

In addition, foreign litigants who initiate lawsuits against government agencies dealing with IP matters can be given more time to complete identity verification procedures during the pandemic, Du said.

Foreign litigants currently have three months to establish that they are qualified to launch such lawsuits in China and find Chinese agents or lawyers to take on their cases.

"But if they have difficulties dealing with related affairs due to the epidemic and apply for an extension, we'll allow it," he said.

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