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More grassroots courts to hear patent disputes

By Zhao Yinan  (China Daily)

08:47, April 15, 2013

More grassroots courts will be allowed to hear patent lawsuits starting on Monday in the latest measure to tackle the rising number of intellectual property disputes in China.

A judicial interpretation released on Sunday includes an article that allows the Supreme People's Court, the top court in China, to designate the jurisdiction of patent lawsuits to a grassroots court.

The sole stipulation enables the grassroots courts, where "conditions are ripe", to help hear civil patent disputes when the higher level of courts are shorthanded. Previously, judicial rulings about patent disputes were restricted to the intermediate and higher people's courts.

"In the early days of civil patent rulings, the number of these cases was small, and judicial expertise and experience hearing these cases was limited," said a statement regarding to the new stipulation.

It said although the restriction had been beneficial in standardizing judicial rulings and nurturing specialized judges, it has not been able to meet the rocketing number of patent disputes in recent years.

Song Yushui, vice-president of Beijing's Haidian District Court, said it is time to allow more judges from grassroots courts to get involved in hearing patent cases to help shoulder part of the workload from the higher court.

The Haidian court was one of three pilot grassroots courts approved by the top court to hear patent disputes in 2009.

Song said the new stipulation makes patent rulings more efficient and reduces the cost for the public to file such cases, so it will be beneficial for the protection of intellectual property rights in the long term.

Xi Xiaoming, vice-president of the Supreme People's Court, has previously called for expanding the number of grassroots courts allowed to hear intellectual property cases.

Courts at all levels heard and closed nearly 237,800 civil litigations regarding intellectual property rights in 2012, a year-on-year increase of more than 37 percent.

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