On 6 June 2014, the establishment of specialised courts for intellectual property rights in China was endorsed at the third meeting of the Central Reform Leading Group on Comprehensively Deepening Reforms, a top-level decision-making and coordinating body established by the 3rd Plenum of the 18th Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party in November 2013.
The introduction of an IP court is regarded as a crucial step in further specialisation of China's IP adjudication, the process of which dated back to 1993 when the first IP tribunal was set up within Beijing First Intermediate People's Court. In concurrence with the IP tribunals, there has been the traditional practice of IPR cases being heard by civil, administrative or criminal divisions of the courts dependent on the nature of the cases.
In 1996, Shanghai Pudong New Area People's Court conducted the pilot practice of having its IP division taking charge of all IP-related civil, administrative and criminal cases, as an effort to work toward improvement of the efficiency and expertise of IP adjudication as well as the consistency in application of judicial standards. This practice was subsequently adopted by many courts at various levels across the country.
The plan of exploring ways to set up IP courts was officially stated in the Decision on Major Issues Concerning Comprehensively Deepening Reforms adopted at the close of the 3rd Plenum in 2013. Early this year, it was reported that both Beijing and Shanghai, among some other Chinese cities and provinces, have sought establishment of a first IP court in their respective jurisdictions.