Judicial decision to protect intellectual property

Updated: 2011-12-21 08:02

By Zhao Yinan (China Daily)

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BEIJING - China's top court is drafting a judicial interpretation to protect online intellectual property rights, which is expected to be released in January at the earliest.

Kong Xiangjun, director of the third civil tribunal of the Supreme People's Court, said on Tuesday that disputes in online copyright infringement have taken up half of the copyright cases this year, due to a boost in information exchanges on the Internet.

Kong said the upcoming judicial interpretation will try to strike a balance between protecting intellectual property rights and facilitating the continued healthy growth in China's online community.

"While strengthening the protection of online innovation and creation, it is also important to avoid overprotection, which may harm the development of the Internet industry in the long run," he said.

Sun Jungong, spokesman of the Supreme People's Court, said the number of intellectual property right cases has surged rapidly, and cases of first instance received by courts at all levels last year has tripled compared with the number 10 years ago.

In the first 10 months this year, the number of intellectual property right infringement cases exceeded 52,000, of which 60 percent were copyright infringement disputes.

The number of intellectual property rights cases marked a 42 percent rise year-on-year, exceeding 50,000 for first time.

China currently has four laws and 19 regulations related to intellectual property rights protection, covering patents, trademarks and other fields.

Liu Chuntian, director of the Intellectual Property Institute of Renmin University of China, said that current laws and regulations are already sufficient in fighting online copyright infringement.

"But it is equally important to protect the industry's prosperity by ensuring that online service providers who have carried out their obligations should be exempt from rights infringement liability," he said.

To solve disputes of online copyright breaches, China practices the rule of notice and takedown, a regulation widely used in many countries that exempts Internet service providers from infringement liabilities if they take down the disputed content after receiving a notice from the copyright owner.

Zhejiang-based Taobao.com, China's leading online retail platform, said it has deleted more than 47 million pieces of disputed information after receiving notice from copyright owners since the company was established in 2003. By this means Taobao has managed to escape hundreds of lawsuits related to copyright violation.

In a recent lawsuit against Taobao, China Friendship Publishing Company requested compensation of 224,000 yuan ($35,000) after finding that an online bookstore registered on Taobao was selling pirate versions of books published by Friendship.

The Beijing Second Intermediate court, however, only approved a 2,000-yuan penalty, saying Taobao had fulfilled its obligation to pre-censor and delete related information.

"Judicial decisions usually serve as a model in forming the code of conduct, especially in emerging industries," Sun said.

China Daily

(China Daily 12/21/2011 page3)