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In the News

China's Grass-Root Courts to Handle Patent Dispute Cases

Apr. 16 – China’s Supreme People’s Court released the “Decision on Revising Several Provisions Concerning the Application of Law in Hearing Patent Dispute Cases (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Decision’)” on April 14, which states that the Supreme People’s Court may, depending on actual circumstances, designate grass-roots people’s courts to exercise jurisdiction over first-instance trials of patent dispute cases. The Decision came to effect on April 15, 2013.

For grass-roots people’s courts which have the capability to handle patent disputes, the Decision has provided a legal basis for them to exercise jurisdiction over such cases.

Previously, China enforced a relatively centralized management in hearing patent dispute cases. The “Several Provisions on the Application of Law in Hearing Patent Disputes” clearly stipulates that the first-instance trial of a patent dispute case should be handled by the intermediate people’s courts at the place where the people’s government of the province directly under the central government is located, or by an intermediate people’s court designated by the Supreme People’s Court.

Restricting the jurisdiction of patent lawsuits to the intermediate and higher people’s courts had played a vital role in standardizing judicial rulings and nurturing specialized judges in the early days of civil patent rulings, when the number of such cases was small, and judicial expertise and experience hearing these cases was limited, according to a statement released by the Supreme People’s Court on its website. However, with the soaring number of patent disputes in recent years, there have been growing calls to expand the number of grass-roots courts holding jurisdiction over intellectual property cases.

In response, the Supreme People’s Court has approved three pilot courts in the country to hear patent dispute cases on utility models and external design since 2009, which are:

  • Haidian District Court in Beijing
  • Yiwu Municipal People’s Court in Zhejiang Province
  • Kunshan Municipal People’s Court in Jiangsu Province

All the three courts have played a leading role in the judicial protection of intellectual property rights.

The Decision came as part of the Chinese government’s efforts to tackle rising intellectual property disputes in the country. In the “Promotion Plan for the Implementation of 2013 National Intellectual Property Strategy” released by China’s State Intellectual Property Office last month, it clearly states that the number of grass-roots people’s courts which have jurisdiction over general intellectual property cases will be increased, and more intermediate people’s courts will be assigned to handle first-instance intellectual property cases.

In 2012, courts at all levels in the country heard and closed nearly 237,800 civil litigation cases regarding intellectual property rights, up over 37 percent year-on-year.



Edward Lehman 雷曼法学博士
Managing Director 董事长

LEHMAN, LEE & XU China Lawyers
Founder of LehmanBrown

Lehman, Lee & Xu is a top-tier Chinese law firm specializing in corporate, commercial, intellectual property, and labor and employment matters. For further information on any issue discussed in this edition of China Patents In The News or for all other enquiries, please e-mail us at mail@lehmanlaw.com or visit our website at www.lehmanlaw.com.

© Lehman, Lee & Xu 2013.
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