The Beijing Intellectual Property Tribunal heard its first case on Dec 16 since it was set up at the beginning of November to improve the quality of trials and fulfill judicial reform.
As of Dec 5, 221 intellectual property cases had been filed, of which 63 percent were related to administrative disputes, such as patents and brand names.
In the first case, a pharmaceutical company, Wecome Pharmaceutical Corp, in Lishui, Zhejiang province, sued the State Intellectual Property Office, claiming a patent issued by the authority was invalid.
Wecome developed a medicine and sought a patent only to find that another company, Huaihua Zhenghao Ltd Co, in Huaihua, Hunan province, had already been issued with a patent. Wecome argued that Huaihua did not provide sufficient detail on how its medicine was made to warrant a patent and that it should be issued with the patent instead.
Su Chi, president of the court, along with two other judges, heard the case.
The trial lasted more than one hour. The verdict is pending.
“It is the first case heard in our tribunal, and we’ve put into practice several new measures raised in our nation’s judicial reform,” Su said.
“We’ve set up the position of assistant and simplified procedures for intellectual property lawsuits.”
The assistant, a member of a collegiate bench, is responsible for helping judges collect materials about a dispute and clarify its focus before a trial.
“If necessary, they are asked to provide a report for chief judges,” Su said. “The new role aims to save time and boost the efficiency of a hearing.”
Assistants can also participate in hearings and discussions with judges, and they have the right to question litigants, he said, adding they will eventually be educated to become judges.
The judicial reform requires leaders of courts, including presidents, to hear more cases, reduce the time they spend on administration and enhance trial quality, he said.
“We’ll disclose more typical IP cases to the public, allowing people to access information online,” he added.
Zhang Ping, an IP professor at Peking University, spoke highly of the new ground charted by the tribunal in Beijing, saying it will provide a good example to other courts.
Establishing intellectual property tribunals was raised by the leadership during the Third Plenum of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, and setting them up has been a contribution to furthering judicial reform, Zhang said.
Similar tribunals are being established in Shanghai and Guangdong province.
Of cases filed at the Beijing IP Tribunal, ones involving foreign litigants accounted for about 36 percent.
“Foreigners should also abide by our laws and procedures,” said Pang Zhengzhong, vice-chairman of Beijing Lawyers Association. “It’s necessary to disclose how Chinese courts hear foreign-related cases in order to improve our judicial image and help foreigners feel confident when they need to solve disputes in our country,” he said.