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Intellectual Property Disputes on the Rise

China's top judge Xiao Yang on Wednesday urged the judges across the country to improve their expertise on intellectual property rights so as to expedite alleged infringement lawsuits.


In the first 11 months of this year, courts at all levels handled 5,750 intellectual property lawsuits, an increase of 24.57 percent over the same period last year.


Xiao Yang, president of the Supreme People's Court, said the courts had accepted more transnational intellectual property cases since the country's entry to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, and the high technologies involved made these cases more complicated.


He told a national meeting of presidents of province-level courts, which ended Wednesday, that China could face more international trade disputes during its economic integration into the global economy.


Some developed countries could protect their domestic markets by abusing intellectual property rights and making allegations of dumping, he said, urging the nation's judges to do more research, especially on intellectual property rights abuse.


Jiang Zhipei, head of the intellectual property court under the Supreme People's Court, said China had signed an agreement with the WTO on trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights, such as copyright, trademarks, industrial designs, patents, layout designs of integrated circuits, and protection of undisclosed information before entering the WTO.


"Over the past two years, Chinese courts endeavored to improve trial standards on intellectual property disputes. A judicial system to protect intellectual property rights is now basically established in China," said Jiang, adding that Chinese courts could accept and handle lawsuits regardless of the nationalities of those involved.


In a bid to guarantee trial standards, the Supreme People's Court stipulated that only the country's 400 or so intermediate people's courts were qualified to accept cases concerning alleged trademark or copyright infringements, and only 47 of these were authorized to accept lawsuits on alleged patent infringements.


All 31 of the higher people's courts had set up exclusive courts to handle intellectual property disputes, and the State Judges Institute held training courses for judges nationwide to unify trial standards on intellectual property disputes.


From 1998 to 2002, China's courts dealt with 23,636 intellectual property cases, up 40 percent from the previous five years.


Xinhua News Agency December 18, 2003


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