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Procuratorates to strengthen IP protection

Updated: Apr 26, 2024 By Yang Zekun China Daily Print
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Procuratorial authorities will strengthen the legal protection of intellectual property rights and promote the construction of an integrated protection framework for intellectual property, a senior prosecutor said at a news conference on Thursday, one day before World Intellectual Property Day.

Gong Ming, deputy procurator-general of the Supreme People's Procuratorate, said they will focus on strengthening the judicial protection of IPR in newly emerging industries such as artificial intelligence, biotechnology, green energy, and information and communication technology.

Offenders will be strictly punished, and expedited legal processes will be adopted to prevent harm to the legitimate rights and interests of rights holders, he said.

"Enhanced judicial protection will be provided for research personnel involved in such emerging industries, with careful handling of cases involving research funding and high-tech talent, to foster an environment that encourages innovation and tolerates failure, thereby stimulating the energy of innovation," he said.

The top procuratorate released a white paper on IPR prosecution work on Thursday, showing that crimes involving IPR mainly consist of trademark infringements, with notable increases in the number of copyright infringements and trade secret violations.

The number of individuals prosecuted for IPR crimes nationwide grew from 22,000 in 2021 to 30,700 last year. Trademark infringements accounted for nearly 90 percent of cases. Meanwhile, the number of copyright infringements increased 140 percent and trade secret violations rose 96.6 percent year-on-year.

The top procuratorate has introduced prosecutorial policies to promote the development of scientific and technological productivity, calling for the exploration of new mechanisms to support innovation.

Equal protections have always been provided for domestic and foreign rights holders, and supervision efforts have been intensified in anti-monopoly and unfair competition to maintain market order, Gong said.

In one case handled by the top procuratorate, from July 2015 to April 2021, several individuals in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, without permission of the registered trademark owner Rolex, teamed up to purchase unbranded watches and commissioned others to imprint the Rolex mark. They also bought straps and watch cases marked with Rolex and hired people to assemble and package them.

The fake watches were sold to several primary agents, who later resold them to secondary and tertiary sales agents. The agents promoted sales through online platform advertisements, formed WeChat groups and rented physical stores. The illegal businesses raked in from 230,000 yuan ($32,000) to over 332 million yuan.

Elsewhere, from October 2021 to March 2022, 26 individuals suspected of counterfeiting were transferred by police in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu province, to the local procuratorate for review and prosecution.

From June to July last year, a court in Zhenjiang sentenced them to imprisonment ranging from one year to six years, and fined them between 60,000 yuan and 50 million yuan for counterfeiting registered trademarks.

To adapt to the new situations and requirements of IPR protection, the top procuratorate formed an IPR Prosecution Office in 2020, coordinating resources and specializing in IPR prosecution work. All provincial-level procuratorates and some cities' procuratorates have also established IPR prosecution departments.

Gong said the procuratorial authorities seek to balance crime control with governance. They will issue procuratorial suggestions to relevant departments to strengthen risk regulation after identifying nascent and trending social issues.

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