China’s Supreme Court Will Hear Appeals on IP Lawsuits Involving Strong Technical Background

【Bilngual Version】

中國最高人民法院

Supreme People’s Court ( SPC ) by Rneches ,CC BY-SA 3.0

According to a decision made by the Standing Committee of National People’s Congress on October 26, 2018, appeal cases involving strong technical backgrounds will be heard by China’s Supreme People’s Court ( SPC ), effective January 1st, 2019. Such legislation that aims to unify standards for hearing intellectual properties (IP) cases and further enhance the judicial protections for IP rights covers disputes on invention patent, utility model patent, new varieties of plants, layout design of integrated circuits, technical secret, computer software, anti-trust, etc. 

Based on the “ Decision of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on Several Issues concerning Judicial Procedures for Patent and Other Intellectual Property Cases”,  the decision is made as follows:

I. The Supreme Court has the jurisdiction over appeals of first instance judgements or rulings in IP civil lawsuits involving relatively strong technical backgrounds, including disputes on invention patent, utility model patent, new varieties of plants, layout design of integrated circuits, technical secret, computer software and anti-trust. 

II. The Supreme Court has jurisdiction over appeals of first instance judgments or rulings in IP administrative lawsuits involving relatively strong technical backgrounds, including disputes on patents, new varieties of plants, layout design of integrated circuits, technical secret, computer software and anti-trust. 

III. For retrial requests or Procuratorate’s protest against those effective first instance judgments, rulings or mediations in above mentioned lawsuits, the Supreme Court has the authority to apply trial supervision procedure, or otherwise designate lower courts, to hear such retrial requests or protests. 

IV. The Supreme Court shall report the implementation status of this Decision to the Standing Committee of National People’s Congress upon completion of the three-year term.

V. This decision comes into effect on January 1, 2019.

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Under the current practice, the appeals against the decisions of the first instance court on patent infringement litigation and patent validity are heard at provincial level high courts. These cases will only go before the Supreme Court if a further appeal is allowed. Thus, judges in different courts may have some difference in the technical knowledge, as well as the interpretation and opinion of the law.

Under the new passed procedure, the appeals (for patents involving relatively strong technical backgrounds) against the first instance judgments or rulings on IP civil and administrative lawsuits are both heard by SPC. Appeals not involving high technical or complex issues are still heard by local high courts.

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