China: New Supreme People’s Court for patent cases

China wants to become an innovation-based nation. Industrial property rights, in particular patents and utility models, have a high priority for this purpose. However, for patent law to fulfill its function, it is important to apply uniform criteria with regard to protectability and infringement.

At present, first instance judgments in patent litigation and the like are to be appealed at the Intermediate People's Court. The verdict of the Intermediate People's Court can be appealed to the local Supreme People's Court.

Already today there are specialized courts for patent disputes and the like: Thus, Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou have a so-called "IP Court". In addition, most Intermediate People's Courts in other provinces have specialized IP divisions.

As of 01 January 2019, intellectual property disputes involving specific technical issues will be appealed to a national court, namely the IP Chamber of the Supreme People's Court. Examples of disputes requiring special technical expertise are those relating to patents, utility models, plant varieties, integrated circuit layout, technical secrets, computer software, monopolies, and the like. For these cases, therefore, the new jurisdictions applies.

So disputes regarding patents, utility models and similar technical special cases are now heard by the new IP Chamber of the national Supreme People's Court. Questions about patentability and infringement are thus judged uniformly in the final instance.

The Supreme People's Court will set up an IP court and will refine and clarify the guidelines for interpreting the laws.

Thus, the appeal in such cases no longer goes to the local Supreme People's Court, but to the new IP court of the national Supreme People's Court.

The new jurisdiction applies not only to first-instance civil court judgments, but also to first-instance administrative judgments. It is noteworthy, that in addition to patents utility models and the like, the administrative procedures in design law issues are therefore also being heard by the new IP chamber.

Civil court cases regarding trademarks, designs and other non-technical IP cases will continue to be handled by the existing local Middle and Supreme People's Courts.