China further innovates and adapts its legal environment to the challenges of the digital era by opening two cyberspace courts (link to the article) and introducing its new E-Commerce Law (link to the article).
At the two new cyberspace courts in Beijing and Guangzhou, highly specialized judges will handle Internet-related cases. The whole procedure will take place online, from case filing up to online hearings via video conference. For this, the strict rules regarding evidence submitting have been simplified and reduced.
China’s long-awaited E-Commerce Law aims at harmonizing and regulating its giant and still growing e-commerce sector. It addresses both classic online stores e.g. on Taobao or TMall, and shops on social media platforms like WeChat. Interesting is the role of platform operators: they are now obligated to take preventive measures against IP infringement and can be made liable for violations. However, for now their part in handling a specific infringement case seems to be limited to just transmitting the evidences.
China’s new cyberspace courts promise more flexibility, faster procedures and higher-quality rulings. As our positive experience with IP Courts shows, high specialization of courts can work extremely well in China and brings a lot of advantages also to foreign IPR owners who enforce their rights in China. As for the E-Commerce Law, so its vague wording, typical for new China’s laws and subject to further clarification through multiple regulations, leaves room for evaluation. We are looking forward to the first decisions being published that will put more light on the responsibilities of online platform operators in cases of IP infringement.
Even though these developments will definitely change the form in which we handle IP infringement cases in China, we advise Western brand owners not to rely too much on the online approach alone. The search, analysis and in the best case deleting of infringing offers from the online platforms is only the first step in the holistic anti-counterfeiting strategy. The most important and also most challenging part is to find and combat the real source of fakes – we call this approach “close down the factory”.
Source: chinacourt.org, Picture: Xinhua