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Institutional reforms and governance of intellectual property rights in China – the case of specialized intellectual property courts

Zhang Liguo and Nari Lee

Keywords: China; specialized IP courts; IPR governance; judicial reform; National IP Strategy

This article examines the establishment of specialized intellectual property (IP) courts in China in 2014. It explores these courts in the context of the IP strategy driven by the national administration, with the aim of highlighting their Chinese characteristics. The article notes that the motivation for establishing these courts was to improve judicial protection of IP rights, a goal aligning with the major target set in the National Intellectual Property Strategy. The establishment of these IP courts was pushed forward by the highest authority to overcome procedural and political obstacles. It was conceived as a pilot scheme for carrying out judicial reform. As such, it is expected that the new measures adopted in these IP courts could later be extended to all other courts in China. One real and compelling reason for establishing specialized IP courts is the rapidly growing volume of IP disputes, which demands coherent and efficient rulings from courts with technologically competent judges. Although this move has yet to provide forum concentration at the appellate level, the specialized IP courts in China have integrated judicial resources and harmonized the interpretation of IP law. In the interim, they have given a clear signal that IP rights are private rights to be adjudicated by courts and implied that IP governance in China has become more market-oriented.

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