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Beijing Court Hails IPR Protection
The courts of the Chinese capital have passed the key test on judicial protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) in the first year after China became a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

That was the message from Wang Zhenqing, vice-president of Beijing High People's Court, who said: "I am satisfied with the performance of the judges, who heard 888 IPR cases last year."

Wang said the courts have strengthened efficiency and justice while judges have been more professional and confident in the past year.

The number of cases handled by Beijing courts last year was 100 more than in 2001 and an increase of 32 per cent on 2000, he said.

Wang attributed the success of the courts to the relatively complete legislation on IPR, their solid preparation before the nation joined the WTO at the end of 2001 and their adaptability to international trends on IPR protection.

His court had worked out specific rules on how to implement national laws and administrative regulations on IPR protection to directly guide the judicial practice of the courts in the city.

"The clearer the rules are, the more confident the judges feel when handling IPR cases which are usually complicated with technical difficulties," said Li Che, a lawyer with Beijing Qiankun Law Firm, which specializes in IPR cases.

The performance of the Beijing courts has also been lauded by legal experts on IPR.

"Beijing's IPR courts have increased transparency and efficiency in the past year," said Li Shunde, a professor of intellectual property with the Law Institute of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

His views were echoed by Liu Chuntian, a professor of intellectual property with the Law School of the Renmin University of China.

Liu said steady progress had been made in judicial protection of IPR in the capital city.

"The improvement in IPR protection in this nation is a major contributor to its attraction to foreign investors," Liu said.

Wang Zhenqing said one-fifth of the cases his court handled last year involved foreign parties, including such big names as Microsoft, Dupont, Motorola, Mitsubishi and LG.

Lego, the Danish toy manufacturer that makes one of the world's most recognizable toys, won a case in Beijing High People's court last year. The judgment stated a Chinese company had copied characteristics of its plastic building blocks.

Lego began its legal action against Tianjin-based Coko Toy Company in 1999 after discovering Lego-lookalike elements in a range of children's play sets, including castles and pirate ships.

The court ruled the Chinese company's design violated Lego's copyright and ordered the company to stop production of the lookalikes and turn over toy moulds to the court to be destroyed.

Additionally, the company has been ordered to print an official apology in the Beijing Daily newspaper and to compensate Lego financially, according to the verdict.

(China Daily February 10, 2003)

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