SUPPLEMENTARY ISSUE- China’s SPC issued Top 10 Intellectual Property Cases and Top 50 Typical Intellectual Property Cases for 2021

On April 21, 2022, the SPC released the top 10 IP cases and 50 typical IP cases in Chinese courts in 2021. The cases involve patent infringement, trademark infringement, copyright infringement, computer software copyright infringement, new plant variety infringement, unfair competition, infringement of technical secrets, monopoly, etc., covering all fields of intellectual property rights. Through the publication of these typical precedents, the SPC aimed to clarify trial rules and provide guidance for subsequent trial practice.

The trial rules established by the Top 10 IP cases involve the following aspects:

1. Examination of trademark prior use right defense:

The purpose of the prior use right defense system is to protect the interests of bona fide prior user in continuing to use its business marks of certain influence within the original scope, which is an important embodiment of the principle of good faith in the field of trademark law.

2. Determination of the amount of damages for trade secret infringement:

In determining the amount of damages for trade secret infringement, various factors such as the commercial value of the technical secret involved, the severity of the infringement circumstances, and the defendant’s refusal/acceptance to enforce the people’s court’s ruling on behavior preservation should be comprehensively considered, so as to increase the cost of infringement and effectively protect the core technology of important industries.

3. Criteria for the application of horizontal monopoly exemptions:

Horizontal monopoly agreements that violate the Anti-Monopoly Law should be nullified, and the scope of nullification is not limited to the terms of the horizontal monopoly agreements, but also includes the terms that are closely related thereto and have no independent existence and the terms that serve the implementation of the horizontal monopoly agreements.

4. Determination of infringement on new plant variety:

Organizing the sale of unauthorized seeds of new plant variety through the internet information platform and covering up the sale in the name of “farmers”, “large family farms” or other business entities is determined as infringement on new plant variety rights, and punitive damages can be applied in accordance with law.

5. Burden of Proof in invention infringement cases:

The party that transfers or destructs pre-litigation preserved evidence (key evidence) shall bear the legal consequences of obstructing evidence preservation, which has important practical value for appropriately reducing the burden of proof on right holders in accordance with law and guiding the concerned parties to provide evidence initiatively, proactively, comprehensively and honestly.

6. Determination of infringement on copyright of acrobatic works:

Copyright ownership can be determined based on the relevant contract, and if the original expressive part of a work is substantially similar to that of a copyrighted work, it constitutes copyright infringement.

7. Determination of unfair competition of click farming:

Organizing click farming for profits and helping business operators carry out false commercial publicity causes the relevant data of the business platform to be inaccurate, and affects the credit evaluation system, and therefore violates the principles of fairness, good faith and business ethics and constitutes unfair competition.

The top 10 cases also include a new type of case which involves copyright protection of open source software, as well as a criminal case involving copyright infringement. These cases fully reflect the SPC’s determination to severely crack down on infringements and protect and promote fair competition in the market, and also reflect the continuous exploration of new situations and new issues in the process of intellectual property protection in China’s judicial practice.

See the following link for the full text (in Chinese) about the cases:

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