IX. Judicial Protection of Intellectual Property Rights
In recent years, the Chinese procuratorial organs have earnestly exercised their duties of examination of arrests and prosecutions in cases of criminal IPR infringement, as well as legal supervision over relevant criminal lawsuits in accordance with law, handled a large number of cases of suspected criminal IPR infringement. From 2000 to 2004, the procuratorial organs at all levels approved the arrests of 2,533 people suspected of criminal IPR infringement, and instituted prosecutions against 2,566 suspects. In 2004, the arrests of 602 people suspected of criminal IPR infringement were approved, and prosecutions against 638 suspects were instituted. In the same year, procuratorial organs around China launched a special drive to supervise cases involving production of fake products and IPR infringement, during which they urged relevant administrative law enforcement organs to transfer suspected criminal cases to public security organs according to law, supervised the filing of cases that should have been filed by the public security organs according to law, made sure that suspected criminal cases entered judicial proceedings in time, and investigated some criminal cases of conniving and covering up production and sale of fake products and of IPR infringement involving government functionaries abusing their powers.
For many years, the Chinese people's courts at all levels have continuously strengthened work in IPR-related civil and criminal trials under the principle of "justice and efficiency." Through handling a large number of IPR-related cases, they have protected the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese and foreign IPR proprietors equally, punished acts of IPR infringement and severely cracked down on criminal IPR infringements, making unremitting efforts to realize social fairness and justice.
Since the handling of the first case of a technological contract dispute in 1981, the Chinese courts have continuously expanded the range of IPR-related trials to include cases concerning copyright, trademarks, patents, unfair competition, computer software, new varieties of plants and integrated circuit layout designs, thus establishing the status of court trials in the handling of IPR-related cases. From 1998 to 2004, courts throughout the country concluded 38,228 IPR-related civil cases of first instance and 2,057 criminal cases of first instance involving IPR infringement in accordance with Section Seven, Chapter III of the "Specific Provisions" of the "Criminal Law," handing down sentences to 2,375 criminals. Among these cases, in 2004, 8,332 civil IPR-related cases of first instance and 385 criminal cases of first instance involving IPR infringement in accordance with Section Seven, Chapter III of the "Specific Provisions" of the "Criminal Law" were concluded, and 528 criminals were punished. In the same year, the Chinese courts also concluded 932 criminal cases of production and sale of fake or inferior goods, punishing 1,453 criminals involved, and concluded 1,434 criminal cases of illegal business operation, punishing 2,103 criminals. A considerable proportion of the above two types of cases also involved criminal IPR infringement.
To correctly apply laws and make law enforcement standards coherent, and based on its experience in handling IPR-related cases, the Supreme People's Court of China has formulated a series of relevant judicial interpretations in accordance with the law, and improved a series of important IPR-related law application principles, which have played an important role in the timely settlement of new problems emerging from the handling of IPR-related cases and in guiding the correct handling of IPR-related cases by the people's courts at all levels. For example, the "Several Provisions on Law Application for Stopping Patent Infringement before Litigation" promulgated by the Supreme People's Court in June 2001 provided judicial measures for stopping right infringements and effectively preventing more losses on the part of proprietors. The "Interpretation of Several Issues Regarding Specific Law Application in Handling Cases of Illegal Publications" promulgated by the Supreme People's Court in December 1998 defined the standards of condemnation and penalty for criminal offences of copyright infringement. The "Interpretation of Several Issues Regarding Specific Law Application in Handling Criminal Cases of Intellectual Property Rights Infringement" jointly promulgated by the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate in December 2004 properly reduced the condemnation standards for the crimes of IPR infringement strictly in accordance with the provisions of the "Criminal Law" and in light of China's actual conditions and judicial reality, increased the applicability of the relevant provisions of the "Criminal Law," and provided a concrete applicable legal basis for handling criminal cases of IPR infringement, and was thus of great significance for effectively cracking down on crimes of IPR infringement.
The Chinese courts put special emphasis on the professional training of IPR judges. After many years of judicial practice and systematic training, a contingent has been formed of highly competent IPR judges who speak foreign languages, and have an intimate knowledge of the law, rich judicial experience and expertise in science and technology. Relatively complete IPR-related judicial departments have been gradually established, providing a strong personnel and organizational guarantee for effective IPR-related judicial work.
The Chinese courts have continuously enhanced international exchanges and cooperation in the field of IPR-related judicature, learning and borrowing from the useful experience and successful practices of foreign countries. The Supreme People's Court actively conducts friendly cooperation with the World Intellectual Property Organization and European Union, and has hosted several seminars and training courses on IPR, the results of which have been encouraging. These seminars and training courses have effectively promoted the enhancement of China's IPR judicial protection, and continuously pushed the level of its IPR-related judicial work to a new high.