Key Point:

  • SIPO and SAIC stress the effectiveness of the administrative track of the IPR regime

The Outline of the National Intellectual Property (IP) Strategy, issued on June 5, 2008 by the State Council, sets forth the mission and the goals of the government and the PRC intellectual property rights (IPR) system, with added emphasis on the measures necessary to continue the progress made in the area of IPR since China’s accession to the WTO.

Although China’s national IP strategy provides no detail as to provisions for implementing a program to realize these mission and goals, included in the outline are improving the IP regime, strengthening protection of IPRs and a mandate to implement strategic measures including improving the enforcement of IP rights. Key to the current IPR regime in China is the dual-track system, which offers IPR holders the option of filing complaints with the administrative authority responsible for administering protection of the particular IP at issue or pursuing an infringer in court (the judicial route), usually via a civil suit. The national IP strategy iterates the importance of improving the regime and strengthening enforcement so that IPR holders can avail themselves of laws and regulations that are practicable and enforced uniformly and efficiently.

Complaints from IPR holders abroad and in China include doubts as to the effectiveness of the administrative track in stemming the tide of infringing activity. In the face of these complaints, the State Intellectual Property Office (“SIPO”) and the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (“SAIC”) have continued to stress the effectiveness of the administrative track of the IPR regime. SIPO’s website reports that in the first half of 2008, the AICs across the nation handled 21,000 trademark violations with goods valued at RMB397 million, and imposed RMB175 million in fines. A total of 53 suspects were referred to judicial authorities for criminal punishment. Information on these violations is available online.2

From 2003 to 2007, the number of patent disputes handled by local IP administrative authorities totaled 6,427 cases including 919 cases of counterfeit patents. Information on these disputes is available online.3

SIPO has recognized the administrative sector of China’s IPR regime for its speed at resolving cases, relatively low expense and efficiency. According to SIPO, administrative legal enforcement of IPRs facilitates efficient resolution of IPR infringement cases.

The national IP strategy emphasizes the judicial track as the leader in efforts to strengthen IPR enforcement and achieve a more effective IPR system by:

  • Improving the trial system;
  • Optimizing the allocation of judicial resources;
  • Simplifying remedy procedures;
  • Carrying out studies on the establishment of special tribunals for handling civil, criminal and administrative IPR cases; and
  • Centralizing jurisdiction in patent cases, among other measures.