8 August 2016Jurisdiction reportsGuangyu Zhang

Supreme People’s Court 2015 report card

According to the report, the newly accepted cases exhibit the following characteristics:

• Most of the cases are still related to patents or trademarks;

• The administration of cases involving grant and validation of patents or trademarks has increased substantially;

• The administration of patent cases mostly involves basic legal issues, such as division and interpretation of technical features, determination of the disclosure of the background technology, and sufficiency of disclosure of the description. Civil patent cases involving the doctrine of equivalents account for a high proportion, and prior art and prior user right defences are commonly used;

•  Identity comparison via DNA technology, etc, in new plant variety cases is developing in depth and the technical issues have become more complex and specialised;

•  Administration of trademark cases increased rapidly again in 2015. Legal issues such as determination of trademarks’ similarity and protection of prior rights still dominate the cases, and the good-faith principle plays a prominent role in guidance of trademark cases’ adjudication;

•  The number and proportion of copyright cases remain steady, internet infringement is still a prominent issue in new business models, and disputes over film and TV works arise frequently; and

•  Most of the competition cases involve trade secret disputes, in which the owner’s ability to collect and present evidence is poor, making it difficult to determine the protection scope in some cases.

Case study

As stated in the report, determination of infringement under the doctrine of equivalents is a key issue in patent infringement cases. In a case included in the report, the Supreme Court points out that the application of the doctrine of equivalents should consider the interests of both the patentee and the public, and consider the levels of technology when the patent application is filed and when the alleged infringing act occurs, so that the protection scope of the patent can be determined appropriately. If a technical solution was excluded when the patent application was filed, it should not be included in the protection scope of the patent via application of the doctrine of equivalents when determining patent infringement.

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