Innovators are better protected, says SPC and SPP

Innovators in China have been given stronger protection over the past five years, thanks to greater judicial efforts in the intellectual property rights field, the Supreme People's Court (SPC) and Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP) said. From 2018 to 2022, Chinese judicial authorities strengthened protection of IP rights to facilitate innovation-driven development, with harsher punishments for IP infringements. In terms of improving legal services for innovation-driven development, courts across the country intensified IP protection of key technologies and emerging and major industries, Zhou Qiang, President of the SPC, said while briefing NPC delegates.

According to the report, judges heard a number of cases involving high-tech areas such as 5G communication, new energies, new materials and high-end equipment manufacturing. Courts across the country concluded more than 2.19 million IP cases between 2018 and 2022, up 221.1% compared with the previous five-year period. Given frequent public complaints that penalties for IP infringements were too low, courts nationwide increased punitive damages. The amount of compensation awarded in IP infringement cases in 2022 rose by 153% compared with 2018, the report said. Over the past five years, an IP court was established at the Hainan Free Trade Port in Hainan province, adding to three such courts in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong province. The four courts were set up to handle the rising number of IP cases.

Offices specializing in tackling IP cases have been established in procuratorates in 29 provincial level regions, according to the SPP work report delivered by Procurator General Zhang Jun. Prosecutors also worked with the China National Intellectual Property Administration and the National Copyright Administration to jointly solve major or influential IP cases, the SPP report said. Data showed that 13,000 offenders were prosecuted in 2022 for breaches of trademarks, patents, copyrights and business secrets, a 51.2% rise from 2018. According to the SPC report, courts nationwide concluded 95,000 foreign-related commercial cases and 76,000 maritime cases from 2018 to 2022, with a total of 10 special courts established to handle international commercial disputes. During the same period, Chinese prosecutors also endeavored to protect the legitimate rights of litigants from home and abroad while handling more than 20,000 foreign-related criminal cases, the SPP report added, as reported by the China Daily.