Intellectual Property Protection in China

Set to Improve with the Creation of a Specialized National Appeals Court

The Supreme People’s Court (SPC) proposed to establish a national level court in China to handle intellectual property (IP) appeals. The good news is that once they submitted the proposal, governing authorities later approved it to take effect in 2019.

The proposal’s purpose is to create a unified platform under the SPC to manage appeals relating to intellectual property disputes across China. Companies, especially in the US, see this new development as a direct response to the international criticism of China’s treatment (or non-treatment) of intellectual property issues.

Beginning January 1, 2019, the new court’s charter is to improve IP protection for foreign businesses in China, particularly in the high-tech industries.  Unfortunately, critics believe it’s unlikely to fully address the IP concerns of foreign investors in China. Despite these beliefs, however, the court plans to bring fresh improvement and consistency to the professional protection of IP.

What Types of Cases Will the Court Hear?

Among others, the court will hear appeals regarding civil and administrative IP issues. Patents, for instance, trade secrets, trademarks, IC design, and unfair competition are examples of such cases.

The court will specialize in appeals requiring highly technical expertise relating to patents for inventions and innovations.  In fact, this high court is knowledgeable and better-equipped to handle the technical requirements for these cases. A lower level regional court, however, may not be the best choice for handling these innovative high-tech areas.

In contrast to the intellectual property1 cases that the Intermediate People’s Court usually handles, the SPC has trained staff.  The regional level courts aren’t trained with the specialized knowledge of the Supreme People’s Court. As such, they will establish centralized and standardized procedures for making consistent rulings.

China had also established specialized courts in Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shanghai to hear IP-related issues in 2004.  An appealed ruling in one of these courts would result in referral to a higher court in the relevant jurisdiction.  As such, the new SPC will now hear IP-related appeals from the Intermediate People’s Court and any specialized IP court.

IP appeals in China: SPC Takes a Step Forward for Legal Protection2

Inadequate IP protection has been a long-standing issue for foreign businesses in China. Furthermore, it has recently returned to focus amid the US-China trade war.  Among the reasons why Trump implemented tariffs on Chinese imports was due to IP infringement and forced technology transfers.

China has made strides in recent years to improve intellectual property protection. At the same time, the Chinese government seeks to increase the pace of domestic Chinese innovation.  As examples, China has made a number of landmark rulings in support of often imitated foreign brands, like New Balance and LEGO.  See China Briefing article3 for more information.

Leaders in China know that it’s in their best interest to improve intellectual property protection. And with the Supreme People’s Court recently developing, this is certainly a step in the right direction. But the country should still look for additional ways to tighten laws and procedures to address the complaints of foreign businesses.  Especially those who fear their proprietary technology could be stolen.

Help with Protecting Your IP

ITI Manufacturing has been working in China since 1974 managing the making, testing, inspection, packaging, and international logistics of our client’s products.  We apply the same care to our client’s product IP as we do our own.  We have an attorney on retainer in China who creates all contracts between us and our suppliers per Chinese law.  Regrettably, no one has control over an unscrupulous person seeing a product at a trade show or purchasing it online. However, similar to ITI, the factories we do business with are pleased to consistently and reliably manufacture our client’s products.

If you have questions about China manufacturing or need a no cost, no obligation expert product evaluation, call us at (281) 242-7030.

Online References:

Share This


We can manage any part of the supply chain, from sourcing to shipment and delivery.

Contact us today to learn more about our supply chain managed services.

[gravityform id="8" title="true"]