On April 21, 2022, China’s Supreme People’s Court (SPC) released a report entitled Status of judicial protection of intellectual property rights in Chinese courts 2021 (中国法院知识产权司法保护状况（2021年）). Highlights include sections on increased quantity of intellectual property law cases in 2021; improved trademark protection including the awarding of treble punitive damages; and impartial trial of foreign-related cases.
The Supreme People’s Court of China (SPC) accepted 4,243 IP cases and concluded 3,557, up by 22.28% and 9.11% respectively on a year-on-year basis. Local people’s courts at all levels accepted 550,263 cases in the first instance and concluded 515,861, up by 24.12% and 16.52% respectively from 2020. Among them, 31,618 patent cases were accepted, with a year-on-year increase of 10.98%, 124,716 trademark cases, up by 59.62%, 360,489 copyright cases, up by 14.99%, 4,015 technology contract cases, up by 22.52%, 8,419 competition-related cases, up by 78.26%, and 21,006 other civil disputes over IPRs with a year-on-year increase of 38.01%. Local people’s courts at all levels accepted 49,084 cases of the second instance and concluded 45,468, up by 14.22% and 4.5% respectively on a year-on-year basis.
The SPC accepted 2,852 administrative cases on IPRs and concluded 2,487, up by 49.4% and 43.34% compared with those of 2020. Local people’s courts at all levels accepted 20,563 administrative cases of first instance on IPRs, and concluded 19,342, up by 11.37% and 7.80% compared with 2020 respectively. Among them, 1,810 administrative cases on patent were accepted, with a year-on-year increase of 27.73%; 18,734 administrative cases on trademark, up by 9.97%; and 19 on copyright cases with an increase of 7 cases. Local people’s courts at all levels accepted 8,215 administrative IP cases of second instance and concluded 7,418, up by 34.85% and 19.97% respectively from 2020. Among them, 5,636 cases were sustained, judgments of 1,597 cases were reversed, 1 case remanded for retrial, 145 cases withdrawn, 11 cases dismissed, and 28 cases resolved in other means.
Local people’s courts at all levels accepted 6,276 first-instance criminal cases of IPRs infringement and concluded 6,046, up by 13.2% and 9.53% respectively on a year-on-year basis. Among them, 5,869 trademark infringement and 333 copyright infringement cases were accepted, an increase of 12.8% and 9.54% respectively. Among these first-instance criminal cases, there were 2,558 cases of counterfeiting registered trademarks, up by 13.19%; 2,623 cases of selling goods with counterfeited registered trademarks (up by 3.76%); 476 illegally manufacturing or selling illegally manufactured logos of registered trademarks (up by 20.51%); 313 criminal cases of copyright infringement (up by 14.65%); 15 criminal cases of selling infringing copies (increase by 2); and 61 criminal cases of trade secret infringement (increase by 16). Local people’s courts at all levels accepted 1,050 second-instance criminal cases of IP infringement and concluded 997, up by 20.83% and 16.74% respectively.
The SPC noted that local people’s courts of different jurisdictions also emphasized the deterrent effect of punitive damages and criminal sanctions on trademark infringement. Courts in Guangdong Province awarded treble punitive damages in 2 trademark infringement cases, with damages of RMB 10 million and RMB 30 million respectively; and a court in Guizhou Province and a court in Heilongjiang Province imposed a fine of RMB 21 million and RMB 21.25 million respectively in two trademark counterfeiting cases.
The SPC noted that besides hosting lots of forums that it “ruled in favor of the full amount of RMB 20 million in damages claimed by the foreign right holder in the case of patent infringement for the “locking intramedullary nail” invention based on the refusal of submitting account books from the infringer. Therefore, the legitimate rights and interests of the foreign litigants were fully protected. China has increasingly become a reliable and trustworthy choice for international IP litigation.”
The full report is available here: SPCReport.