On September 9, the Supreme People's Court held a press conference regarding the latest updates of the Intellectual Property (IP) Courts in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. The three IP Courts were established at the end of last year. As of August 20 of this year, they have received a total of 10,795 cases and decided 4,160.

Due to their regional and jurisdictional differences, the three IP Courts have differed on the types of cases they received and decided. The Beijing IP Court received 6,595 cases (5,622 first-instance cases, 973 second-instance cases), characterized in: first, a high proportion of administrative suits, with over three-quarters of all cases involving the patent office or the trademark office; and second, a high proportion of cases involving foreign parties, 39.4% of total. The Shanghai IP Court received 1,052 cases (612 first-instance cases, 440 second-instance cases) with over half being copyright cases. The Guangzhou IP Court received 3,148 cases (1,842 first-instance cases, 1,306 second-instance cases) with a high proportion being patent cases: 90.99% of first-instance cases and 53.24% of total cases.

As of August 20, the three IP Courts decided a total of 4,160 cases. The Beijing IP Court decided 2,348, the Shanghai IP Court decided 409, and the Guangzhou IP Court decided 1,403. It is noteworthy that in just nine months, the judges of the Beijing and Guangzhou IP Courts have each decided an average of over 100 cases. This shows a significant increase in the efficiency of the IP courts.

The Beijing IP Court currently has 22 judges (not including 1 Chief Judge and 2 Deputy Chief Judges), while the Shanghai IP Court has 10 (not including 1 Chief Judge, 1 Deputy Chief Judge, and 2 tribunal leaders) and the Guangzhou IP Court has 10 (not including 1 Chief Judge and 2 Deputy Chief Judges). Compared to traditional courts, IP Courts have a much more streamlined and efficient personnel structure for judges. However, the considerable backlog and continual emergence of new cases are putting more pressure on judges.

To address the hand shortage problem, the Supreme People's Court is in talks with relevant departments of the central government to establish a mechanism for dynamically adjusting the number of judges in IP courts. A second group of judges for the Beijing and Guangzhou IP Courts is either currently being or has already been chosen. In addition, the Supreme People's Court will initiate a pilot program in the three IP Courts, launching a Technical Investigator mechanism to improve the efficiency and professionalism in IP lawsuits.

Originally published 30th September 2015

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