Intellectual property (IP) rights is increasingly becoming a priority among companies in China as more such cases were heard in courts last year, driven by the country's push toward establishing a knowledge-based economy and as its people become more aware of the relevant laws.
According to a report Monday by China Daily, 66,000 IP-related cases went to litigation in 2011, up 37.7 percent over 2010. This was a bigger jump than those for other categories such as criminal cases, which rose 7.7 percent over the same period, noted China's chief justice Wang Shengjun in the report.
The majority of these 66,000 cases were related to disputes concerning ownership and infringement of contracts, it added. One example of this was the ongoing trademark dispute between Taiwanese company Proview and Apple over the naming rights for "iPad".
"With rapid economic and social development in China, copyright lawsuits, involving complicated technical and legal problems, are soaring," said China's Supreme Court in a statement. "Courts across the country are faced with the arduous task of protecting technical progress and innovation."
Other legislators pointed to growing public awareness and the country's move toward science and cultural industries for the increase in IP cases.
Zhu Jianmin, president of Liaoning Oxiranchem and a deputy to the National People's Congress (NPC), said in the report that the rise in IP rights disputes would "enhance the building of national brands and boost fair competition". Without legal protection, a brand that takes years to build will soon attract "a lot of copycats", he added.
Song Yushui, deputy president of Beijing's Haidian district court and a NPC deputy, added that the rise of IP lawsuits meant China's knowledge-based economy was "developing fast" and seeing increasing demand for legislation.
"Solving these IP rights disputes will provide space for the knowledge economy to develop in a healthy, orderly way," she stated in the report.
China Daily also noted that China's courts would pay "special attention" to IP cases in sectors such as industrial design, Web production, folk literature and arts, to promote the development of culture domestically.