SPC exemplary case of 2021: Appotronics Corp. Ltd. v. CNIPA

China’s Supreme People’s Court (SPC) on July 28, 2021 brought an end to the lingering litigation between Japanese multinational electronics manufacturer Casio Computer Co., Ltd. (卡西欧计算机公司) and Chinese rival Appotronics Corp. Ltd. (深圳光峰科技股份有限公司).


The case on February 28 was identified by the top court as one of the 48 representative cases of the 3,460 ones in which it issued rulings in 2021. As a guiding principle distilled by the court, the case shows that the term "special technical features" is defined as meaning those technical features that define a contribution which each of the inventions considered as a whole, makes over the prior art.


In 2016, Appotronics filed a petition with the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) to invalidate Casio’s patent ZL201010293730.7 related to a light source device, a projection apparatus, and a projection method. Casio filed an application for the patent with the CNIPA in 2010, which was granted by the agency in 2013. The Reexamination and Invalidation Board of the CNIPA dismissed Appotronics’s challenge to the issued patent and affirmed the agency’s decision.


In 2017, Appotronoics filed an administrative lawsuit against the CNIPA with the Beijing Intellectual Property Court to reverse the CNIPA’s decision. The trial court agreed with Appotronics’s arguments, revoking the CNIPA’s ruling and remanding the case for a retrial. The court invalidated Casio’s patent for lack of inventiveness. The CNIPA and Casio appealed the case to the Supreme People’s Court.


The high court found for the appellants and upheld the CNIPA’s decision in July, 2021. 


The case docket no. is 2020)最高法知行终155, whose English transliteration is 155, second instance (), administrative case (), intellectual property (), (2020) Supreme People’s Court (2020)最高法).