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Courts to assist development of healthy internet economy

Updated: Apr 23, 2021 China Daily Print
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Plan calls for more action against monopolies and unfair competition

Logos of Ant Group and Alibaba are pictured at the headquarters of Ant Group, an affiliate of Alibaba, in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, Oct 29, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

Chinese courts have been required to intensify efforts in the next five years to hear cases against monopolies and unfair competition, especially those that happen in cyberspace, to maintain the healthy development of the internet economy.

The requirement was highlighted by the Supreme People's Court, China's top court, in a five-year plan for judicial protection of intellectual property rights that was issued on Thursday.

Under the plan, courts nationwide have been told to focus more on antimonopoly hearings and those involving unfair competition to prevent disorderly capital expansion as well as to maintain sustainable and healthy growth of the internet platform economy.

"We'll draft a judicial interpretation on handling civil lawsuits against monopolies at an appropriate time in line with amendments and improvements to the country's Anti-Monopoly Law and relevant regulations," He Zhonglin, first deputy chief judge of the Intellectual Property Court, a division under the top court, told media at a news conference on Thursday.

He added they will also study problems in the application of laws, especially cutting-edge ones related to online platforms, and undertake more research while making the interpretation.

From 2008, when the law took effect, to the end of last year, courts across the country heard 897 civil monopoly-related cases, of which 854 have been concluded, according to the top court.

Meanwhile, the plan also orders Chinese courts to strengthen the protection of scientific and technological innovation and creation through case hearings.

For example, it clarifies that courts should concentrate more on protecting major agricultural technologies and giving stronger legal guarantees to innovation in the seed industry to effectively safeguard the country's food security.

In addition, it requires courts to harshly punish IPR infringers and lower the costs of IPR owners or holders in protecting their rights. IPR case hearings involving foreign litigants and those regarding international trade will also be intensified, it added.

Last year, Chinese courts continued their strong handling of IPR cases to implement the central leadership's demand for IPR protection and serve high-quality development, said Lin Guanghai, deputy chief judge of the top court's No 3 Civil Division.

He said courts nationwide heard 525,618 IPR-related cases last year, up 9.1 percent year-on-year, and concluded more than 524,000 of them, up 10.2 percent.

Last year, the top court issued 10 IPR-related judicial interpretations and normative documents, including those on handling online IPR cases and business secrets, as a move to help judges solve such disputes and unify standards for case hearings, Lin said.

Misbehaviors related to the COVID-19 outbreak, such as the faking of trademarks, business defamation and false promotion, were seriously punished by Chinese courts to maintain market order and prevent the spread of the pandemic, he added.

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