Court Orders IPR Payout Increase
The number of intellectual property right (IPR) claims in Chinese courts grew by more than 30 percent last year. This included patent, trademark, and copyright infringements about everything from domain names, to pirated DVDs and fake designer clothing. But evidence of the financial loss incurred is difficult to produce, and victims are often
under-compensated as a result. The Supreme People's Court (SPC) sought to address this issue when it strengthened guidelines on compensation and directed courts to adopt "flexible and practical methods" in calculating damages.
"When it is difficult to calculate the exact amount of loss, but there is evidence proving that the amount should be much higher than the highest statutory amount, courts should award an amount higher than that level," the document stated. Compensation for victims is currently capped at 500,000 yuan. Under a law passed last December, this amount will be increased to 1 million yuan from October.
The strengthened guidelines also gave legal representatives of foreign plaintiffs the right to sign documents on behalf of their client. Previously, foreign plaintiffs were required to be in the country during proceedings because they were required to sign any documents. "Courts should not demand that a rights owner who lives overseas personally sign the statement of claim," it stated.
Last year, Chinese courts concluded 27,876 intellectual property right infringement cases. This was an increase of 32.58 percent on the year before, according to a report by Chief Justice Wang Shengjun.
In one recent matter, the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People's Court ordered three Chinese automakers to pay 20 million yuan compensation and 1.16 million yuan in legal costs to German auto company Neoplan on February 4, 2009. The court said the A9 coach produced by the Zhongwei Passenger Bus Company and Zhongda Industrial Group China was essentially the same as the Neoplan Starliner. The companies were ordered to stop producing the A9 and Beijing Zhongtong Xinghua Auto Sales Company was ordered to stop sales of the vehicle. (Source: SIPO 2009-04-24)
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