China's intellectual property rights protection will be further intensified via legislation and law enforcement to maintain market order and improve economic and technological development.
As the country deepens domestic reforms and increases international cooperation with a more open attitude, IPR protection has been given higher priority by judicial authorities and governmental departments, according to Ma Yide, an IPR professor with Zhongnan University of Economics and Law in Hubei province.
He said the strengthening of IPR protection is not made due to pressure from overseas, but is by itself necessary to ensure economic and technological growth.
"I believe we will have a bright future if we continue to highlight IPR protection in various aspects," said Ma, who is also a deputy to the 13th National People's Congress.
IPR-related affairs will also be hot topics among legislators and political advisers attending the annual sessions of the NPC and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee this year, Ma said.
He welcomed a draft amendment to the Patent Law, noting plans to raise the range of fines for violators to between 100,000 yuan($14,490) and 5 million yuan when the loss to patent holders, or the benefits gained by violators, cannot be determined. The current range is from 10,000 yuan to 1 million yuan.
"This means IPR protection is a high priority, as evidenced by the legislation," he said, adding he hoped the draft, which was submitted to the NPC Standing Committee for the first review in December can be adopted after being further improved this year.
Meanwhile, he said he was glad to see the Supreme People's Court, the nation's top court, establish a special court in January to handle civil and administrative appeals related to patents.
He considered the setup a key step in showing China's determination to combat IPR violators, and the new court will be effective in helping prevent inconsistencies in handling patent-related disputes across the nation.
Wang Chuang, deputy chief judge of the new Beijing IP Court, said about 30 judges with years of experience hearing IPR cases work for the new court, and nearly a third of them having backgrounds in science and engineering.
"We'll also make full use of technology, including big data and artificial intelligence, to help the judges efficiently resolve IPR disputes," Wang said. "Litigants can also expect more convenience. For instance, they can submit and read materials and arguments online."
In addition, the central government reorganized the National Intellectual Property Administration, combining all IPR-related responsibilities from other ministries such as trademarks, patents, geographical indications and layout designs of integrated circuits, and incorporating IPR into the administration. The administration is under the State Administration for Market Regulation.
"This move means the country's comprehensive IPR strength has entered a new level, showing that IPR protection has been market driven," Ma added.
Ma, who is also a vice-president of the IP Law Association with the China Law Society, said the awareness of protecting IPR has also been enhanced among governmental officials, entrepreneurs and residents.
In 2014, the country established three intermediate-level courts responsible for hearing IPR cases in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, Guangdong province, to meet the demand of rapid growth of such disputes.
In 2017, Chinese courts heard more than 200,000 IPR cases, up 40.4 percent year-on-year, and double the number in 2013, according to the top court.