CNIPA Replied to Whether the Patent Evaluation Report Provided by Petitioner Can be Directly Used as the Evidence of the Existing Design Defence in Patent Infringement Case
The CNIPA stated in its reply to Zhejiang Provincial Intellectual Property Office that as provided in Article 67 of the Patent Law of the People's Republic of China, "In patent infringement disputes, if the accused infringer can prove that the technology or design implemented by the petitioner belongs to the prior art or design, its act will not be deemed as infringement. It is also provided that the accused infringer is the subject of the existing design defense right, and if the accused infringer does not bring forward the defense claim, the patent management department shall not take the initiative to handle the existing design defense. The petitioner is not the subject of providing the existing design evidence, and thus the patent evaluation report provided by the petitioner cannot be directly used as the evidence of the existing design defense in patent infringement cases.
The State Administration for Market Regulation Issued the National Pilot Program for Innovation in the Protection of Trade Secrets
The major tasks of the pilot work are to enhance the system innovation for protecting business secrets, improve the business secret protection mechanisms, strengthen the regulatory enforcement towards business secrets, and advance the service security system of business secret protection, to seek conformity to the high-quality international economic and trade rules, and create a good business secret protection atmosphere.
According to the pilot program issued by the State Administration for Market Regulation, the innovation pilot work is carried out in cities and counties (districts). Through applications of local governments and evaluation by the State Administration for Market Regulation, 15-20 regions will be enrolled into the first batch, and a three-year pilot program will be started in July 2022.
SPC Released 2021 Work Report
The Supreme People’s Court (“SPC”) released its 2021 Work Report on 8 March 2022 detailing the work conducted by the Chinese judicial authorities in the year of 2021. The 2021 Work Report covers judicial work and figures reported in PRC criminal proceedings and civil proceedings. Key figures reported include the acceptance of 33,602 cases, the conclusion of 28,720 cases, the formulation of 24 judicial interpretation and issuance of 31 guiding cases by the SPC. At the local people’s courts (of all levels) and special people’s courts, it reported courts at these levels had accepted 30.104 million cases worth RMB 8.3 trillion in total.
At Section 2 (on commercial cases) of the 2021 Work Report, the SPC reported that it had settled 541,000 first-instance intellectual property rights (“IPR”) cases during 2021 in support of innovation-driven developments in China. These cases relate to emerging technologies including 5G communication, biomedical sciences and high-end manufacturing. The resolution of such IPR cases helped protect core technologies and original inventions. The SPC has attempted to address various issues associated with IPR cases, including high evidentiary thresholds required in establishing an infringement, long case processing times, high legal fees (as a result of prolonged wait times) and low compensation payouts. The SPC additionally issued a judicial interpretation on punitive damages, imposing said damages to IPR infringers in 895 cases. Under the applicable law on conduct preservation, patentees may obtain win-win outcomes in IPR infringement cases by obtaining a court judgement and an interim injunction so to minimize the impact of the infringing act. In addition, new measures enable reasonable expenses to be claimed from indiscriminate litigants, demonstrating the court’s lack of tolerance towards vexatious proceedings that obstruct innovation.
To support the objective of maintaining fair levels of competition in the market, the anti-monopoly and anti-unfair competition law have been strengthened. Courts of all levels had concluded 49 cases concerning monopolies and 7,478 cases concerning unfair competition. Monopoly and unfair competition cases on the "either-or" option required by certain online platforms, scalping and credit fabricating was notably settled by the relevant courts. Acts that hindered fair competition and harmed public interest were also punished severely. The "Modern China Tea Shop (Chayan Yuese)" sued "Chayan Guanse" on the basis of unfair competition was concluded with the infringer issued unfavorable sanctions by the courts. In addition, the trademarks infringement case of "Qinghuajiao" was noted to fall outside the ambit of legal protection with relevant litigation claims were rejected.
The 2021 Work Report concludes with 6 high-level action points to take in 2022. These include (1) Strengthening political loyalty by implementing institutional mechanisms for capacity building in this direction; (2) Maintain national security and stability by taking a hard stance towards criminal offences, including cybercrime offences; (3) Focus on market-oriented judicial solutions that serves the needs of SME businesses, businesses in the digital economy and nation-wide economic projects including One-Belt-One-Road and the Hainan Free Trade port initiatives; (4) Safeguarding the rights and interests of women, children, the elderly, disabled and those who are disadvantaged; (5) Accelerate the systematic reform of the judicial system; and (6) Strengthen judicial composition, including the training and selection of judges.
Data source: https://www.court.gov.cn/zixun-xiangqing-349601.html
China-Eurasian Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) Pilot Program Extended
According to CNIPA's Announcement about Extending China-Eurasian Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) Pilot Program, PPH is a business cooperation project for sharing prosecution results among patent prosecution organizations, which aims to help applicants get their overseas applications approved as soon as possible. It is jointly decided by CNIPA and EAPO that the China-Eurasian PPH Pilot Program, which was launched on April 1, 2018, will be extended for one year from April 1, 2022 to March 31, 2023, without any change to the submitting requirements and procedures of PPs and claims.
Valeo Group Won the Patent Infringement Case Against A Shanghai Automobile Sales Company and Won A Compensation of 5.35 Million Yuan
Valeo Lighting Group of Belgium (hereinafter referred to as "Valeo"), a world-famous auto parts manufacturer, is the patentee of the invention patents of "a beam emitting device and lamps with this device, especially for motor vehicles" involved in the case. Valeo had purchased front fog lamp assembly products in a Shanghai-based automobile sales company and its 4S store. After comparison, it is decided that these products are covered by the scope of protection of its invention patent claims. Later by the product trademark and 3C certification number, a Zhuhai car lighting company is identified as the manufacturer of these products. On such a basis, Valeo alleged that Zhuhai Car Lighting Company's manufacture, sales, and offering for sale of these products without permission and Shanghai Automobile Sales Company's sales of these products constitute infringement on its patent rights, and therefore filed a lawsuit in the Shanghai Intellectual Property Court.
The court held after hearing that the foregoing invention patents involved are in a valid state, and that the technical solutions of the alleged infringing products fall within the scope of protection of the patents involved. Therefore, the acts of the two defendants are affirmed to constitute infringement. Therefore, the court ruled that Zhuhai Car Lighting Company and Shanghai Automobile Sales Company shall stop the infringement, and that Zhuhai Car Lighting Company shall indemnify the plaintiff Valeo CNY 5 million from its economic losses and CNY 0.35 million from its reasonable expenses.