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Judge guarantees fair play in all IPR cases
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Chinese courts adhere to national treatment principles and abide by international conventions to protect the rights of foreign holders of intellectual property rights, a senior judge told a national conference on IPR-related trials yesterday.

"In IPR cases involving foreign parties, we insist on fair trials and equal protection for all involved, ensure trials' independence and neutrality, and maintain a sound judicial image," Cao Jianming, vice-president of the Supreme People's Court (SPC), said.

He called on courts to be balanced in their approach to the interests of domestic and foreign parties.

"Courts should neither exaggerate national interests, nor fail to achieve just trials and equal protection because of pressure from foreign parties," Cao said.

Courts should handle all cases strictly according to the law, regardless of whether they are straightforward ones involving foreign parties, or highly sensitive ones that could attract global attention, he said.

"Courts must not sacrifice justice to blindly cater to unilateral foreign public opinions."

China's IPR laws are mostly in line with international legislation, but when they are not, we will give priority to international conventions that are directly applicable to domestic trials, Cao said.

"IPR protection has become a constant strategic topic in China's external affairs," he 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 is 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."

The number of IPR cases involving foreign parties has risen significantly over the past seven years, according to Jiang Zhipei, chief justice of the SPC IPR Tribunal.

Between 2001 and last year, Chinese courts concluded more than 1,600 IPR cases involving overseas parties. Last year alone, they handled 668 cases, up 89 percent on 2006, 164 of which were dealt with by courts in Shanghai.

Ying Xinlong, vice-president of the Shanghai High People's Court, said that as well as the number of cases rising, their value is also going up.

Last year, China Cyber Port, an online game provider based in Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, filed a 100-million-yuan ($14 million) suit with the Shanghai No 1 Intermediate People's Court against Shanghai Holdfast Online Information Technology Co Ltd over copyright infringement.

The case was eventually dismissed in June for insufficient evidence.

(China Daily February 20, 2008)

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