The Opinions on Several Issues in Enhancing Reform and Innovation in Hearing Intellectual Property Cases issued by the "Two Offices" (the General Office of the CPC Central Committee and the General Office of the State Council) on Feb. 6, 2018, was released in full text.

The Opinions, which is the first programmatic document of milestone significance issued by the "Two Offices" exclusively designated for IP judicial protection, establishes the guiding ideology, basic principles, reform objectives and key measures in judicial protection of intellectual property rights (IPRs), according to Tao Kaiyuan, vice president of the Supreme People's Court of China.

In particular, Tao explained that, first, the Opinions serves an objective need of safeguarding the interests of innovation in science and technology; second, the Opinions is a major move to strengthen the protection of IPRs and aims at solving such challenges as "hard proof, low compensation and long cycle" in IP enforcement; third, the Opinions is a necessary requirement for bring in play a leading role of IP judicial protection; fourth, the Opinions is an important guarantee for the modernization of the judicial protection system and judicial capability in hearing IP cases.

Regarding how to ensure that the judgment scales of courts in various places are unified? Tao pointed out that the Supreme Court guarantees that through several approaches including, trying IP cases by the Supreme Court itself, formulating judicial interpretations, making real-time judicial policies, releasing IP guiding cases and continuously enhancing the training and education of IP judges. The latter two points are also raised in the Opinions.

The Opinions, which holds onto the modernization of the IP judicial system and the modernization of the judicial power, endeavors to make Chinese courts preferred venues for international IP disputes. This relies on the high-level trial quality and efficiency of Chinese courts as well as the expertise of the IP judges, Tao said.

The Opinions definitely responds to the demands of some IP right holders.

For example, the Opinions restates the intention of enhancing IP infringement compensation to reflect the value of IP, and increasing efforts to crack down on IP infringement by increasing penalties for infringement and reducing the costs for safeguarding rights.

The Opinions also calls for exploring ways to rationally allocate the burden of proof in order to solve the problems of "hard proof" for the holders of intellectual property rights.

Further, the Opinions sets forth the establishment of an IP appeals court with centralized jurisdiction for better unifying the trials of IP cases.

The Opinions points out that the number of IP judges should be adjusted dynamically, which implies that the number of judges may be increased in the near future, since the year of 2017 marks for the first time the first instance IP cases in China exceeded 200,000, with a growth of 40.36% compared with the same period of the year 2016.

The Opinions clearly shows that China does have placed the reform of IP judicial protection on its priority, since "Intellectual property protection is a basic means to stimulate innovation, a basic guarantee for the motive force of innovation, and a core element of international competitiveness" and is of great significance to the country.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.