The number of applications for the registration of intellectual property in China for areas such as patents, trademarks and copyrights has been growing rapidly in recent years, as has the number of IP-related lawsuits. This is a problem faced Mainland Chinese IP courts for jurisdiction at the trial level and at the cross-regional level. This problem is explicated in the following:
◎ Trial-Level Jurisdiction
According to the "Notice of the Supreme People's Court on the Revision of Standards Governing the Jurisdiction of Local People's Courts at Each Level over Intellectual Property Cases of the First Instance," only the following courts shall have jurisdiction over intellectual property cases of the first instance: The Supreme People's Court, intermediate people's courts, basic-level people's courts and military courts designated by the Supreme People’s Court. Regarding the jurisdiction of the aforementioned courts delineated by level, see the table below:
To view the table click here.
◎ Special Territorial Jurisdiction - Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou Intellectual Property Courts
nNovember 2013: " The Decision on Several Major Issues Concerning the Comprehensive Deepening of Reforms" was adopted, exploring the feasibility of establishing an intellectual property court.
nJune 2014: The " Decision of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress Regarding the Establishment of Intellectual Property Courts in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou" was reviewed and adopted during the third meeting of the Central Leading Team for the Comprehensive Deepening of Reforms.
n"On the Decision to Establish Intellectual Property Courts in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou" was passed during the tenth meeting of the Standing Committee of the 12th National People's Congress
nOctober 2014: The Supreme People's Court promulgated the "Provisions of the Supreme People's Court Regarding the Jurisdiction of the Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou Courts in the Adjudication over Cases."
nOctober 11, 2014, the Beijing Intellectual Property Court was officially established
nDecember 21, 2014, the Guangzhou Intellectual Property Court officially begins hearing cases
nJanuary 1, 2015, the Shanghai Intellectual Property Court began hearing cases
1.An intellectual property court as the court of first instance shall have jurisdiction over the following cases within its municipal jurisdiction:
①Civil and administrative cases that deal with patents, new plant varieties, integrated circuit layout and design, technical know-how and computer software
②An administrative case concerning an administrative act of a department of the State Council or a local people's government at or above the county level regarding copyright, trademark or unfair competition.
③ A civil case involving the determination of a well-known trademark.
The Intellectual Property Court of Guangzhou shall exercise cross-regional jurisdiction over cases specified in the Items (1) and (3) within Guangdong Province.
2.Where a party appeals a civil or administrative ruling regarding copyright, trademark, technical contracts, unfair competition or any other item relating to intellectual property rights that is rendered by a basic people's court acting as the court of first instance which is located in the same city as the intellectual property court, the appeal by said party shall be reviewed by the intellectual property court.
3.Cases that fall within the jurisdiction of the Beijing Intellectual Property Court
First instance cases of matters related to intellectual property, which chiefly include:
①Administrative cases in which a party refuses to accept a ruling or decision rendered by a department of the State Council
②Administrative cases relating to compulsory licensing of intellectual property rights
③Administrative cases arising from other administrative actions related to the authorization of intellectual property rights.
The Beijing Intellectual Property Court has heard and adjudicated an upwards of 20,000 and closed 13,000 cases respectively. All categories of cases were heard. In 2016 alone, the Beijing Intellectual Property Court heard 8,305 cases of the first instances, 2,330 cases of the second instance and received 3 applications for retrial.
Furthermore, the Beijing Intellectual Property Court has heard cases which have been highly complex and highly impactful. For example, the series of disputes that arose between Qualcomm and Meizu Technologies over patent infringement and antitrust action, the administrative dispute between Apple Inc. and the Beijing Intellectual Property Office over patent infringement as well as the dispute arising from accusations of copyright infringement and unfair competition against the Voice of China.
◎Intellectual Property Cases Heard by Courts Having Cross-Regional Jurisdiction
In October of 2016, the Supreme People's Court decided to expand the number of intellectual property courts with cross-regional jurisdiction, requiring that Nanjing, Suzhou, Chengdu and Wuhan establish courts of the aforementioned variety before March of 2017.
ØOn January 9, the Chengdu Intellectual Property Court was inaugurated. It has jurisdiction over civil and administrative cases relating to intellectual property.
ØOn January 19, the Nanjing and Suzhou intellectual property courts were inaugurated:
Nanjing Intellectual Property Court began hearing first instance civil intellectual property cases from Nanjing, Zhenjiang, Yangzhou, Taizhou, Yancheng, Huai'an, Suqian, Xuzhou, and Lianyugang dealing with patents or other technical matters.
The Suzhou Intellectual Property Court began hearing first instance civil intellectual property cases from Suzhou, Wuxi, Changzhou and Nantong dealing with patents or other technical matters.
In addition, the Nanjing and Suzhou intellectual property courts heard both common civil IP cases and administrative IP cases in their respective jurisdictions in which the value of the subject matter of action during their trials of first instance exceeded 300 million Yuan.