It remains unclear what action the Supreme People’s Court will take to reform how China handles intellectual property rights cases, yet authorities in coastal areas have already set the wheels in motion.
Jiangsu province and Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province, have shown interest in creating a dedicated IPR court.
Xu Qianfei, president of the Jiangsu High People’s Court, said at an international forum in December that the province is gearing up for such a move.
However, Beijing stands higher chance of being selected to open such a court, according to experts.
The capital’s courts handle the highest number of IPR cases, while the Beijing High People’s Court is among the first to explore IPR tribunals.
As the State Administration for Industry and Commerce’s Trademark Appraisal Committee and the State Intellectual Property Office’s Patent Re-Examination Board are both in Beijing, the capital has the most intensive exposure to such cases.
Zhang Xuesong, deputy chief judge of the IPR division at the Beijing high court, said that more than 1,370 out of some 1,500 IPR appeals he and his colleagues handled in 2012 were related to the two government departments for patent and trademark review.
Unlike their counterparts in the United States, Chinese high court judges need to review both the facts surrounding the case in addition to how the law applies.
Each 15-judge team at the Beijing IPR tribunal handles about 100 appeal cases a year, Zhang said.
The high court has launched a feasibility study on building an IPR court, although Zhang said it would be better if the supreme court rolled out an overall plan to give local authorities clear instructions on further moves.
Chen Xinguang, a researcher at the Development Research Center attached to the Shanghai government, said the city is also considering an IPR court, a move expected to advance its plan to turn Shanghai into an Asia-Pacific regional IPR hub.
As the pilot free trade zone in the city was unveiled in September, Shanghai authorities are gearing up to build procedures for IPR dispute settlement, Chen added.
Following the international arbitration court that has moved into the zone, there are plans to set up a comprehensive enforcement agency early next month to deal with patents, trademarks and copyright, as well as food safety and quality supervision, he said.
Forming an IPR tribunal is part of the efforts, though whether it will be separate or a division of the existing court remains undecided, he said. Contact the writers at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org