Technical experts to help IP Court to solve cases

A total of 115 technical experts were appointed as investigators by the Beijing Intellectual Property Court to help solve technical cases. With the fast development of technology, the court has seen rapidly growing IP technical disputes over the past few years. “Hearing technical cases has become a major part of our job,” said Zhou Liting, Deputy head of the Court’s Technical Investigation Department. She revealed that since the court was established in November 2014, it has solved 23,000 technical cases, of which about 20,000 have been concluded. The cases covered many sectors involving high-tech, such as communications, medicine, biology, chemistry, materials and computers, she said.

Considering the complexity of technology, a judicial interpretation by the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) issued at the end of 2014 allowed courts to appoint technical investigators to help with cases, clarifying that the appointment period ranges from one to three years. The court set up the Technical Investigation Department in October 2015, Zhou said, noting that 183 technicians had served the court in 3,281 cases.

Compared with the previous appointments, the number of investigators this time has increased, “and technicians focusing on pharmaceuticals and telecoms have been added in particular this time”, she added. The average age of the new technical investigators is 41 and each has been engaged in technical industries for an average of 15 years, with a significant rise of those working for colleges, hospitals and technical academies.

Zhang Hui, a biomedical technician, was reappointed this month. Before the appointment, he had provided technical support in more than 50 cases. He expressed pride at being a technical investigator, “as the job is to stand with judges to give stronger judicial protection of IP rights”, he said. Recalling his work in previous cases, he added, “I grew up quickly after being urged to follow the latest technologies and innovations in my field, and my communication skills and the understanding of technologies have also been improved by interpreting obscure technical terms to judges.” To guarantee the objectivity of case handling, all technical investigators, including the latest appointments, must not meet litigants involved in disputes nor provide fake technical reports, the China Daily reports.

Separately, Song Yushui, Vice President of the Beijing Intellectual Property Court, said that China’s judicial system has made greater efforts in recent years to protect trade secrets, improve the quality of hearings and build a sound business environment for domestic and foreign enterprises. It is absolutely necessary to strengthen protection of trade secrets, she added. The need to protect trade secrets has been added to China’s Civil Code, the Anti-Unfair Competition Law and the Criminal Law as well as a number of judicial interpretations and local regulations. “This demonstrates that China has constantly strengthened the legal protection of trade secrets,” Song said.

Data from the Beijing IP Court, which was established in November 2014, showed it had heard 182 cases regarding trade secrets by the end of last year, of which 136 have been concluded. A total of 93% of the cases involved workers leaving a company for a rival, she said. “Quite a few plaintiffs in the lawsuits failed to win support from the court, as they had difficulty in proving that the contents leaked by their former or current employees were valuable and confidential,” she explained. To solve this problem, the court issued a guideline in October 2021, specifying what information can be identified as trade secrets and listing a few examples of acts that can be deemed as infringements, the China Daily reports.