Courts will continue to 'respect, abide by IP rules'

Tao Kaiyuan, SPC's vice-president at the press conference of IPR judicial protection publicity events

Chinese courts will continue to uphold legal protections while handling foreign-related intellectual property cases to further improve technological innovations, officials from the nation's top court said on April 19.

"We've paid attention to the recent Sino-US trade frictions, but our attitude - providing equal legal protection to each party in a dispute, no matter where it is from - has never changed," said Song Xiaoming, chief judge of IP division of the Supreme People's Court.

"All Chinese courts will continue to respect and strictly abide by IP-related international conventions and rules to ensure each owner of IP rights will be fully protected," he told China Daily after a news conference on IP case hearings.

The proportion of IP cases involving overseas interests annually has been as high as 20 percent since 2015 and is increasing, according to the top court. Most such cases involve patents and trademarks and are related to the US, "and IP disputes about business secrets have become frequent recently", Song said.

In some cases, both parties were foreign companies based in China, "which also showed our legal protection of IP rights has earned their trust", he added.

Last year, Chinese courts accepted 237,242 new IP cases, up 33.5 percent year-on-year, and 225,678 cases were concluded, an increase of 31.4 percent, according to the top court.

Chinese courts also have given more serious punishment to IP violators, said Tao Kaiyuan, the top court's vice-president specializing in hearing IP cases.

"We've strengthened IP protection by increasing compensation for people whose IP rights were harmed because we've come to a greater realization that legal protection is the best way to safeguard technological innovations," she said.

In February, for example, the top court ordered a company in Shandong province to pay 10 million yuan ($1.6 million) in compensation - instead of the 3 million yuan set out in the original ruling - to the Beijing branch of Chinese juice producer Huiyuan Group. The ruling said the Shandong company had seriously harmed Huiyuan's trademark rights.

A judicial institution for handling cross-border IP disputes has been set up in 15 cities since 2017, including Nanjing in Jiangsu province and Wuhan in Hubei province, to improve the quality of IP case hearings, Tao added.