China enables more grassroot courts to settle IP disputes

The Supreme People's Court is now able to designate the jurisdiction of intellectual property lawsuits to grassroot courts as China looks to cope with an increase in such legal disputes.
Written by Ellyne Phneah, Contributor
The Supreme People's Court is now able to delegate civil patent lawsuits to grassroot courts when higher level courts are shorthanded.

More grassroot courts in China will be allowed to hear patent lawsuits starting Monday, as the country looks to tackle the increasing number of intellectual property (IP) disputes.

According to China Daily Monday, a judicial interpretation released the day before included an article allowing China's top court, the Supreme People's Court, to designate the hearing of civil patent lawsuits to grassroot courts so long as "conditions are ripe".

Previously, judicial rulings on patent disputes were restricted to only the intermediate and higher people's courts, it noted.

"In the early days of civil patents rulings, the number of these cases were small and judicial expertise and experience hearing these cases [were] limited," a statement regarding the new stipulation noted.

Even though the restriction had been beneficial in standardizing judicial rulings and nurturing specialized judges, it was unable to meet the increasing number of patent disputes in recent years, it added.

Song Yushui, vice president of Beijing's Haidian District Court, said it is time to allow more judges from grassroot courts to get involved in hearing patent cases and shoulder part of the workload. The Haidian court was one of the three pilot grassroot courts approved by the Supreme People's Court to hear patent disputes in 2009.

The new stipulation will make patent ruling more efficient and reduce the cost for the public to file such cases, so it will aid in the protection of IP rights in the long run.

According to the report, Chinese courts at all levels heard and closed nearly 237,800 civil litigations regarding IP rights in 2012, representing a year-on-year increase of more than 37 percent.

This latest decision is part of the Chinese government's efforts to tackle rising IP disputes in the country. In January, for example, China had established a center to provide third-party mediation and dispute resolution services for technology companies involved in IP disputes.

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