Chinese courts have introduced stronger intellectual property rights protection for the seed industry, especially as concerns new varieties of plants, to ensure food safety and safeguard national security, said an official from the Supreme People's Court, China's top court.
Courts nationwide have seen a rapid growth of civil cases involving new plant varieties in the past few years, "and we've established a protective system through legislation and regulation making," He Zhonglin, first deputy chief judge of the top court's Intellectual Property Court, said on Tuesday.
From 2016 to 2020, courts across the country concluded a total of 781 civil cases related to new plant varieties. The number of cases resolved increased to 252 in 2020 from 66 in 2016.
More than 85 percent involved new plant variety rights, mainly covering agricultural products such as corn, wheat and rice, He said, adding that rights owners and holders won in more than 70 percent of the lawsuits.
Courts also took a number of measures to promote innovation in plant breeding and in strengthening IPR protection in the industry.
For example, Chinese courts harshly punish those making or selling fake or poor-quality seeds, and also offer stronger protection for breeding techniques and trade secrets.
China has set up four special courts and 23 tribunals specialized in dealing with IPR-related disputes and in May, the top court created an expert database of judges to increase professionalism in the handling of seed-related cases.
Courts are required to maintain IPR protection of new plant varieties and to mandate stringent punishments to deter illegal activity in the seed-related industry, He said.