Beijing courts have witnessed an increasing number of cases involving intellectual property rights (IPR) in recent years, especially after China's entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001.
In 1993, Beijing led the country by setting up a special IPR division in its high and intermediate courts.
Since then, the people's courts of Beijing have accepted more than 4,700 cases involving IPR disputes. Over 4,500 of the cases have been resolved.
Wang Zhenqing, vice-president of the Beijing High People's Court, said the rate of IPR cases coming before the courts had increased rapidly since the late 1990s, reflecting increasing public awareness about the issue.
Courts in Beijing at various levels dealt with 978 IPR cases last year, a rise of 28 per cent over 2001 and 2.5 times the number in 1998.
The number of overseas-related IPR cases that has been settled in Beijing is also increasing, from only a few matters in the early 1990s to around 20 cases last year.
Wang said many of the cases handled by the capital's courts involved famous multinational corporations such as Motorola, Panasonic and Intel.
Beijing's courts also have rich experience in handling Internet-based IPR disputes. The city's judicial system has worked through nearly 200 cases involving Internet copyright and domain name disputes in the past decade, the most in the country.
In the early 1990s, the Beijing High People's Court resolved uncompromising technology problems related to IPR through engaging legal consultants, appointing technical verification groups, and inviting experts and scholars to participate in trials.
The capital also pushed for the professional training of IPR judges and most of them have taken various kinds of courses in foreign countries, allowing them to handle cases following international practice, Wang said.
To further improve the quality and efficiency of IPR case adjudication, all matters in Beijing are required to be heard in only five courts - the Beijing High People's Court and the No 1 and No 2 intermediate people's courts, in addition to two grassroots courts.
However, as the number of IPR disputes has soared in recent years, the Beijing High People's Court is considering getting more local grassroots courts to deal with the matters.
The idea has only been mooted and a timetable for change is not expected in the near future, Wang said.
He said the city's high court and others will intensify their IPR efforts to meet judicial transparency requirements, unity within the legal system and judicial independence, which WTO membership calls for.
The Chinese capital has led the Chinese mainland with several other major cities, including Shanghai and Guangzhou, in court hearings of intellectual property right disputes.
(China Daily April 18, 2003)