Judges trained for global IP cases

(China Daily )Updated : 2018-03-01

With a steady rise in intellectual property cases involving foreign litigants during the past five years, China has improved the quality of such hearings by educating judicial officials, according to the nation's top court.

"The proportion of IP disputes involving foreign individuals and companies is as high as 20 percent a year, and it is increasing," said Song Xiaoming, chief judge of the Supreme People's Court's IP Tribunal.

"Most foreign-related cases focus on patents and are related to the United States," he said on Wednesday after a news conference about IP protection arranged by the State Council Information Office.

His remarks follow guidelines for improving IP protection unveiled by the central leadership on Tuesday, as well as echo IP reforms in which hearings needs to adapt to changes in the international environment.

"Chinese courts always respect and abide by international IP rules and learn from the successful experience of global cases, in a move to give the equal IP protection to each party in a dispute, no matter where it is from," he said.

He said many IP judges were invited to or took the initiative to attend international IP meetings and activities to increase IP communications, adding, "The better understanding we have of each other, the more effective we can be to solve IP disputes."

The country has more than 300 IP tribunals and about 5,000 judges and judicial assistants responsible for hearing IP cases, according to the top court.

"But the quality of the IP team needs to be improved further," he said.

Some judges born in 1980s and 1990s are good at reading foreign languages, "but their spoken language needs to be more practiced to better face emergencies during foreign-related case hearings and when they participate in international conferences", he said.

In addition, all judges need more technical education to better deal with the rising number of patent disputes, such as those about medicines, business secrets and new varieties of plants, he said.

In recent years, the top court has increased efforts to cooperate with universities to provide more technical classes while educating judicial experts, as well as strengthened talks with technicians and legal professionals, he added.

Tao Kaiyuan, vice-president of the top court, said the aim is to try to let litigants first choose China's courts to hear their IP disputes because of efficient trials, high-quality judges and better judicial protections.

From 2013 through 2017, 781,257 IP cases were concluded in Chinese courts, according to the top court.