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News & Cases from China: February 2024

Published on 27 Mar 2024 | 6 minute read

The Intellectual Property Court of SPC Releases Annual Report for the Year 2023

Date: 23 February 2024

According to the Report, the number of cases accepted and concluded by the Intellectual Property Court of the SPC in 2023 continued to rise.  A total of 7,776 cases involving technology-related intellectual property and monopoly were accepted (including 5,062 new cases and 2,714 ongoing cases), and a total of 4,562 cases were concluded, resulting in a disposition rate of 90.1%. Compared to 2022, the number of cases accepted increased by 25.8% (with new cases increasing by 14.9% and concluded cases increasing by 31.5%).

During the same period, the number of infringement cases also continued to increase, with 3,222 new second-instance civil cases recorded, representing a 9.0% year-on-year increase. Infringement disputes relating to invention patents, utility models, new plant varieties, technical secrets, and computer software have been increasing year by year. There were 1,277 new administrative second-instance cases, showing a 44.0% year-on-year growth, with an increase in administrative disputes concerning patent application rejection review and patent invalidation.

Additionally, cases involving emerging industries of strategic importance have been on the rise, encompassing information technology, biotechnology, new energy, new materials, high-end equipment, alternative fuel vehicles, and green environmental protection. There were 1,582 cases related to emerging industries of strategic importance, accounting for 31.3% of all new cases, an increase of 244 cases compared to 2022. In addition to reaching record highs in terms of case acceptance and conclusion, the rate of judgment reversal for second-instance civil cases in the Intellectual Property Court of SPC was 25.7%. Excluding cases where the change of validity of the rights, uniform judgment standards for mass rights protection cases, and other factors led to judgment reversal, the actual reversal rate was 11.2%, a year-on-year increase of 1.7%. Meanwhile, the rate of remanding civil second-instance cases for retrial continued to decline, dropping from 3.4% in 2022 to 0.3% in 2023.

Source: The SPC









The SPP Jointly Supervised and Handled Three Batches of 150 Major Piracy Cases in 2023 

Date: 28 February 2024

According to official statistics, in the first 11 months of 2023, procuratorial organs nationwide accepted over 2,500 copyright infringement cases, encompassing both traditional and emerging areas involving new technologies and forms. Concurrently, the Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP), together with the National Copyright Administration and other departments, launched three batches of special supervision over 150 major cases of infringement and piracy. For instance, the SPP provided guidance to the procuratorial organs in Shanxi Province in handling the first-ever nationwide case of copyright infringement related to a 'Murder mystery game,' cracking down on emerging cultural sectors involved in infringement and piracy. Additionally, administrative agencies were urged to strengthen supervision over the 'Murder mystery game' industry through means such as issuing prosecutorial recommendations.

Procuratorial organs have placed particular emphasis on malicious litigation in the fields of musical works, audiovisual works, photography, and cultural and creative products. For example, the SPP supervised and organized the handling of a vexatious litigation case involving a cultural company's infringement of music and television copyright, which involved thousands of infringement lawsuits across nine provinces. The aim was to simultaneously pursue criminal punishment and civil supervision. The procuratorial organs in Beijing Municipality established a legal supervision model to combat malicious litigation, integrating judicial judgments, administrative rulings, and intellectual property public opinion data. Through big data analysis, they issued prosecutorial recommendations for retrial in 77 civil cases involving a picture company suspected of engaging in malicious litigation.

Source: The SPP









National Copyright Administration Reports National Copyright Registration Status for the Year 2023

Date: 20 February 2024

According to the report, the total number of copyright registrations nationwide reached 8.923901 million in 2023, an increase of 40.46% compared to the previous year. Among them, there were 6.428277 million registrations for copyright works, marking a 42.30% year-on-year increase. The registered copyright works included fine arts, photography, literary works, and audiovisual works. Additionally, there were 2.495213 million registrations for computer software copyrights, representing a 35.95% year-on-year increase. The provinces (and municipalities) with the highest number of registrations were Guangdong, Beijing, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Shanghai, Sichuan, Shandong, Hubei, Anhui, and Shaanxi. In terms of copyright pledge registrations, there were 411 registrations nationwide in 2023, reflecting a 17.43% increase compared to 2022. For computer software copyright pledge registrations, there were 361 registrations, indicating a 28.01% increase.

Source: The National Copyright Administration








The Guangzhou Internet Court Concludes First Instance Hearing of the First Copyright Infringement Case Involving a Generative Artificial Intelligence Platform

Date: 26 February 2024

The Plaintiff, Shanghai Character License Administrative Co., Ltd. (SCLA), signed a Licensing Certificate with Tsuburaya Productions Co., Ltd., the copyright owner of the Ultraman works, obtaining exclusive rights to use and protect the Ultraman series images. It alleged that the Defendant, an AI company, had, without its authorization, generated, and reproduced on its Tab website, images that are substantially similar to the Plaintiff’s Ultraman images, thereby infringing the Plaintiff's rights to reproduce, adapt, and disseminate the involved Ultraman images via the internet.  The Defendant’s images had been created using artificial intelligence. The Plaintiff requested the Guangzhou Internet Court to order the Defendant to immediately cease the infringement and compensate the Plaintiff for economic loss and reasonable litigation costs totaling 300,000 yuan (approx. US$ 41,678).

The Guangzhou Internet Court found that the Ultraman images generated by the Tab website partially or completely copied the original artistic expression of the 'Ultraman' image, and that the Defendant had infringed the Plaintiff's reproduction right by copying the Ultraman works without permission. Additionally, the generated images retained the original expression of the 'Ultraman Tiga' work in part and created new features based on it, which constituted making an adaptation of the works.  This infringed the Plaintiff's adaptation right.

It is worth mentioning that when determining the type of liability the Defendant should bear, the Guangzhou Internet Court referred to the Interim Measures for the Management of Generative Artificial Intelligence Services implemented on 15 August 2023, and held that the Defendant was a provider of generative AI services and, as such, should take specific technical measures to avoid generating images that are substantially similar to copyrighted works. Furthermore, the Guangzhou Internet Court considered that the Defendant had failed to fulfill its reasonable care obligations, such as establishing an infringement complaint reporting mechanism, warning the users of potential risks, and clearly labeling the AI-generated content. Ultimately, the Guangzhou Internet Court ruled that the Defendant should immediately introduce technical measures to prevent the generation of and compensate the infringing images while users are using its services normally. It awarded compensation for economic losses and reasonable legal fees totaling 10,000 yuan (approx. US$ 1,389).

Source: The Guangzhou Internet Court









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Rouse Editor
+44 20 7536 4100
Rouse Editor
+44 20 7536 4100