China’s Supreme People’s Court (SPC) on April 21 released Certain Provisions for the Hierarchy of Courts of Original Jurisdiction over Civil and Administrative IP Litigation (《关于第一审知识产权民事、行政案件管辖的若干规定》), which came into force on May 1. The Judicial Interpretation (JI) of the Civil Procedure Law of the People’s Republic of China (《中华人民共和国民事诉讼法》) and the Administrative Procedure Law of the People’s Republic of China (《中华人民共和国行政诉讼法》) was issued to streamline the structure and organization of the courts where disputes over intellectual property rights are adjudicated for the first time. China’s four-level judicial system—the SPC (national level), high people’s courts (provincial level), intermediate people’s courts (city level), and primary people’s courts (district level)—applicable to IP cases is intended to be further reinforced while being rationalized.
Specialized intellectual property courts, intermediate people’s courts at capitals of provinces, autonomous regions, and special municipalities, and intermediate people’s courts purposefully assigned by the SPC shall have original jurisdiction over seven types of civil and administrative IP disputes involving intense scientific and technical elements, such as invention patents, utility model patents, new plant varieties, layout designs of integrated circuits, trade secrets, computer software copyrights, and monopolistic practices.
Specialized intellectual property courts, intermediate people’s courts, and primary people’s courts purposefully assigned by the SPC shall have original jurisdiction over civil and administrative IP disputes over designs and trademarks except for administrative design disputes.
Intermediate people’s courts shall as trial courts adjudicate IP disputes not listed among the above-mentioned types with monetary value claims reaching thresholds set by the SPC and disputes involving the Constituent Departments of China’s State Council, people’s governments at and above the county level, and administrative practices of China Customs.
Courts shall exercise original jurisdiction over civil and administrative IP disputes over novel or convoluted subject matters, or involving exemplary application of guiding principles in place of lower courts at lower courts’ behest or at their own discretion in compliance with the provisions of the Procedures Laws. In opposite scenarios, courts shall transfer disputes to lower courts for adjudication with higher courts’ permission in compliance with Article 39 Paragraph 1 of the Civil Procedure Law. The SPC shall use discretion to decide courts to exercise original jurisdiction over IP disputes not covered by all the previous stipulations.
A table of all Chinese primary people’s courts of original jurisdiction over IP disputes by claimed monetary value is provided. For example, there is no upper limit set on monetary value claims of IP disputes which all of the six district people’s courts of Beijing municipality shall adjudicate as trial courts. Three district people’s courts of Tianjin municipality shall adjudicate IP disputes with monetary value claims capped at 5 million yuan ($750,000) as trial courts.
The full text of the Provisions and the table are available here.