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International Laws Applied in Chinese IPR Cases
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International intellectual property rights (IPR) laws will have precedence whenever they're applied in Chinese domestic cases even if they differ from domestic laws, a senior judicial figure has told a national conference on IPR-related trials.

Chinese IPR laws are typically in tune with related international laws so equal protection is accorded to both overseas and domestic IPR owners, Cao Jianming, vice-president of the Supreme People's Court (SPC), said yesterday.

But when they weren't China would give priority to international conventions that are directly applicable to domestic IPR cases, said Cao.

As for the regulations in documents signed by China on accession to the World Trade Organization, such as the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), the idea was to transform them into domestic laws. "And for those that have already been enshrined in domestic laws their execution is bound by international treaties," Cao explained.

To further allay foreign concerns on IPR protection the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the top legislature, recently approved China's entry into the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty.

"IPR protection has become a constant strategic topic in China's external affairs," Cao said. "On the one hand China has made remarkable progress while on the other some developed countries keep applying pressure as global IPR competition intensifies. 

"It's impossible to solve in a short time contradictions between China's economic and technical shortcomings as a developing country and the high IPR protection standards proposed by developed countries," Cao said. "The disputes will last for a long time."

He reiterated China's stand in adhering to "national treatment" principles according to TRIPS agreements. "Favorable treatment will neither be offered to foreign parties because of their foreign sensitiveness nor protectionism given to any local or industrial parties in the name of protecting national interests," Cao said.

IPR-related court cases have been on a rapid rise in recent years. From 2002 to 2006 Chinese courts dealt with 931 IPR cases involving overseas parties which indicated a rise of 50 percent each year, according to Jiang Zhipei, chief justice of the SPC IPR Tribunal.

(China Daily January 19, 2007)

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