Four cities to expand their legal jurisdiction
Supreme court approves move which will lead to further judicial reforms
The Supreme People's Court has approved intellectual property divisions in intermediate courts in four cities to allow them to exercise their jurisdiction over neighboring regions.
The move will further advance judicial reforms, experts said.
Nanjing and Suzhou in Jiangsu province, Wuhan in Hubei province and Chengdu in Sichuan province were given approval to found IP-dedicated judicial organs to hear cases mostly involving complex technical issues in other cities, according to a policy issued by the supreme court in early January.
Chengdu's IP judicial division began to work on civil and administrative cases across Sichuan province on Jan 9.
Nanjing and Suzhou unveiled their divisions on Jan 19. The Suzhou division can hear administrative cases and certain civil cases from four cities in Jiangsu, while the province's remaining nine cities fall into the Nanjing division's jurisdiction.
The Chengdu division covers IP cases across Sichuan province.
"The founding of the court divisions for cross-region jurisdiction implies the possibility of adding new IP-dedicated courts in China," Wu Handong, a renowned IP expert, told 21st Century Business Herald.
The new court divisions help to ensure an even more professional team of judges and lay a foundation for the possible addition of IP courts in the future, National Business Daily quoted Feng Xiaoqing, a professor of IP at China University of Political Science and Law, as saying.
There are currently three IP courts in operation in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong province. They have handled more than 30,300 cases over the past two years.
The four cities in which the cross-region jurisdictions are located are all on the Yangtze River Economic Belt and are known as regional business and innovation hubs.
In Jiangsu, more than 29,000 companies have filed patent applications, with 73 granted Strong Enterprise and National IP Model status.
Sichuan is consistently among China's leading IP provinces, with 37 of its counties listed among the nation's leading IP regions. In Hubei, invention patent filings increased by 45 percent to more than 40,000 in 2016, compared to a year earlier.
Li Shunde, a researcher with the Institute of Law at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said: "The four cities have seen a growing number of IP cases and they have more experienced judges. As such, they have more pressing demand for dedicated judicial organs."
Wang Haiping, president of the Sichuan High People's Court, and Liu Yingzi, deputy mayor of Wuhan, both proposed that IP courts should be set up in their respective jurisdictions during the National People's Congress in March 2016.
Jiangsu province has included the goal of establishing an IP court into its development plan for the 2016-20 period.
Such concentrated jurisdiction efforts could reach beyond provincial borders in the near future.
The supreme court is planning to establish a leadership group to advance IP judicial reforms in Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei province, especially with regard to technical cases, its Vice-President Tao Kaiyuan said at a seminar in Shanghai in December.
"We will conduct research with related authorities to explore the possibility of an IP-dedicated appeals court," she said. "We will approach this research from the perspective of our national strategy."
Such an appeals court would help to unify the standards for judicial performance, experts said.
Li suggested that the appeals court should be established in Beijing, along with a number of sub-courts or circuit courts in other major regions.