简评两办《关于知识产权审判领域改革创新若干问题的意见》

作者:冯超 周亮

观点

2018年2月6日,中共中央办公厅和国务院办公厅联合出台了《关于知识产权审判领域改革创新若干问题的意见》(以下称“《意见》”),2月27日,《意见》全文公布。2月28日,最高人民法院副院长陶凯元在国务院新闻发布会上介绍了《意见》出台的有关情况,并接受了记者采访。天达共和律师事务所冯超律师对上述意见内容进行如下介绍和简评。

《意见》共包含“总体要求”、“完善知识产权诉讼制度”、“加强知识产权法院体系建设”、“加强知识产权审判队伍建设”和“加强组织领导”四个部分。

一、总体要求

《意见》认为,创造和创新是构建知识产权强国、科技强国这一国家战略的重要基础,知识产权保护是鼓励创造和创新的根本手段和重要保障。

冯律师简评:

本次《意见》是我国最高党政领导机关联合出台的第一份强调知识产权保护是驱动创新发展的主要手段的纲领性文件。

二、完善知识产权诉讼制度

1. 建立符合知识产权案件特点的诉讼证据规则

《意见》要求完善证据保全制度,充分发挥专家辅助人的重要作用。更为重要的是,《意见》提出适当加大人民法院依职权调查取证力度,充分发挥公证机关在知识产权案件中固定证据的作用,探索建立证据披露规则,合理分配举证责任,适当减轻权利人举证负担,着力破解知识产权权利人“举证难”问题。

冯律师简评:

在以往的知识产权审判中,人民法院对于依职权调取证据一般比较谨慎。本次《意见》提出适当加大人民法院依职权主动调查取证的力度,这将成为权利人在缺乏证据开释制度而导致取证困难的情况下的一种有效的取证手段。

既往部分中国法院曾经在被告拒绝提供与其侵权行为获利有关的证据的情况下,通过采纳第三方披露的关于被告非法获利的证据而做出有利于权利人的判决。《意见》还提出探讨证据披露制度,明确按照《民事诉讼法》的有关规定,合理分配举证责任。 

2. 健全知识产权侵权损害赔偿制度

《意见》要求从根本上破解知识产权侵权诉讼“赔偿低”的问题,充分发挥社会组织、中介机构在知识产权价值评估中的作用,着力构建以补偿为主、惩罚为辅的侵权损害司法认定机制。

《意见》强调,对于具有重复侵权、恶意侵权以及其他严重侵权情节的,可依法判决惩罚性赔偿,提高赔偿数额,以有效遏制和威慑侵犯知识产权行为。 

冯律师简评:

侵权损害赔偿的计算依然是一个难题。既往判决当中,权利人往往难以提出有效的证据证明实际损失或者侵权人获利的数据,导致难以获得应有的赔偿金额。知识产权价值评估机构的积极参与将有助于改善现有状况,提高损害赔偿金额。

2013年《商标法》以及《专利法》修正案中均引入了惩罚性赔偿的制度,这一修改将有助于提高损害赔偿数额,有效遏制恶意侵权行为。 

3. 推进符合知识产权诉讼规律的裁判方式改革

《意见》强调进一步发挥知识产权司法保护的主导作用,依法加强对知识产权行政行为的司法审查,促进知识产权行政执法标准与司法裁判标准的统一。《意见》要求完善知识产权案例指导制度,改进裁判方式,推进知识产权案件繁简分流。

冯律师简评:

从五年前对于《专利法》修订的讨论开始,知识产权的司法保护制度就被经常和行政保护制度相提并论,而本次《意见》强调了司法保护在知识产权保护中的重要性。

此外,陶副院长也在《意见》发布的新闻发布会上强调,知识产权司法保护依然将会是知识产权侵权的基本和首要的救济途径。此外,为了满足权利人的需要,人民法院将进一步提高司法保护的质量和效率。陶副院长还介绍说,北京知识产权法院受理案件的30%为涉外案件。她表示通过建立一支精通法律、熟悉技术并具有国际视野的审判队伍,有信心将中国法院打造成当事人信赖的国际知识产权争端解决“优选地”。

4. 统一知识产权案件裁判标准

《意见》多次强调最高人民法院关于进一步统一裁判标准的要求。其中,陶凯元副院长提到了三项主要的具体措施,分别是最高人民法院直接审理案件,颁布出台司法解释和司法意见以及发布指导案例。

关于案例指导制度,陶凯元副院长明确指出:

(1)在最高人民法院迄今为止发布的92件指导性案例中,有20件是知识产权案件;

(2)北京知识产权法院开始在判决书引用指导性案例进行法律分析和说理;

(3)由最高人民法院发布的指导性案例虽然没有法定拘束力,但下级法院在审判类似案例时“应当参照”;

(4)具有指导意义的案件不仅包括最高人民法院正式发布的指导案例,也包括每年知识产权日(4月26日)发布的十大知识产权案件和50大典型案例;

(5)最高人民法院在北京设立了指导案例研究基地以促进完善案例指导工作。

三、加强知识产权法院体系建设

1. 建立健全知识产权审判制度

《意见》要求,研究建立国家层面知识产权案件上诉审理机制,实现有关知识产权案件审理专门化、管辖集中化、程序集约化和人员专业化,从根本上解决知识产权裁判尺度不统一、诉讼程序复杂等制约科技创新的体制性难题。

冯律师简评:

在北京、上海以及广州设立知识产权法院的举措极大地促进了知识产权案件审理队伍的专业化和管辖的集中化。而知识产权上诉法院的建立意味着将专门的知识产权法院进一步推广到其他省份,最终覆盖全国并建立国家层面的知识产权上诉法院制度。

2. 探索跨地区知识产权案件异地审理机制

《意见》要求,充分整合京津冀三地法院审判优势资源,探索北京知识产权法院集中管辖京津冀地区技术类知识产权案件。

冯律师简评:

北京知识产权法院在知识产权审判工作中发挥的重要作用得到了广泛地认可,尤其是和天津、河北地区的同类型法院相比优势突出。京津冀三地知识产权案件由北京知识产权法院集中管辖的提议将有助于提升天津和河北地区的知识产权案件审判水平。

四、加强组织协调工作

《意见》提出,积极推进人民法院组织法、专利法、著作权法、有关诉讼法等相关法律的修订工作,研究制定符合知识产权审判规律的特别程序法,加强知识产权案件专门审判组织、诉讼管辖、证据规则、审理程序和裁判方式的法律化、制度化。

  

General Office of Communist Party of China and State Council issued Opinion regarding Reform and Innovation for Trial of Intellectual Property Cases

 

On February 6, 2018, General Office of Chinese Communist Party and State Council jointly issued the official document namely “Opinion regarding Improvement of Reform and Innovation for Intellectual Property related Trials” (the “Opinion”). Vice President of Supreme People’s Court (“SPC”), Judge Tao, made interpretation to the IP Opinion during the press conference and was interviewed following the issuance on February 27. 

The IP Opinion consisting of four parts includes the General Requirement, Perfection of IP Trial System, Enhancement of IP Court System, and Improvement of Arrangement and Coordination, which were specified as follows. 

I. General Requirement

The Opinion positioned the IP protection issue as the basic measure for encouragement and guarantee to innovation and creation that builds the foundation to the National Strategy to establish a Nation that is strong in IP as well as science and technology.

Comments by Charles Feng

The Opinion was the first strategic document issued by CPC and State Council, the top administrative body of China, which declared the IP protection as the major approach to protect innovation and development. 

II. Perfection of IP Trial System

1. Establishment of Evidentiary Rule that suits the characteristics of trial for IP cases

The Opinion illustrated the importance of perfection of evidence preservation system; fulfill the function of expert assessor. More importantly, the Opinion emphasized the importance of ex officio evidence collection by court without application of related parties, the utilization of notary public for the purpose of evidence collection and recognition, the importance of establishment of rules for discovery, reasonable distribution of burden of proof and appropriate alleviation of burden of proof for right owners, in order to overcome the difficulties for evidence production.

Comments by Charles Feng:

In the past, the Chinese courts have been generally cautious in conducting evidence preservation for right owners. The newly stressed ex officio evidence collection will likely be a useful approach for IP owners in possible judicial actions where the evidence collection was difficult due to the absence of discovery procedure.

The document also mentioned the establishment of rules for discovery, reasonable distribution of burden of proof, specifically under Article 75 of Civil Procedure Law of PRC, and a few Chinese courts which have decided in favor of right owners by adopting the evidence on illegal revenue unofficially disclosed by third parties where the defendant refused to produce evidence to prove the actual profits made by infringing activities.

2. Improvement to the Calculation System for Damages

The Opinion stressed the importance of fulfillment of function of intermediary organizations in evaluation of intellectual properties, in order to establish judicial recognition mechanism for the compensation to right owner as major objective as well as punishment to infringers as auxiliary objective and fundamentally fix the problem of “low damages”.

The Opinion also stressed the necessity of punitive damages against repeated infringements, willful infringements as well as other serious infringements, to effectively deter IP infringements.

Comments by Charles Feng:

The calculation of damages remains a difficult issue. Due to absence of discovery procedure, IP owners always fail to produce effective evidence to prove the actual amount of damages and, consequently, fail to acquire the ideal compensation that they deserve. The active involvements of evaluation organs will likely help to improve the current situation resulting in higher amount for damages.

The punitive damages have been introduced to the 2013 Trademark law, as well as drafted Amendment of Patent Law. Such amendment will facilitate the ruling of higher amount of damages and deterrence against willful infringements.

3. Promotion of Reform of IP Trial System

The document emphasized the fulfillment of the function of judicial protection as the major remedies to IP infringements; enhancement of the judicial supervision against IP related administrative actions and advancement of unification of standards of administrative enforcement and judicial trial. The Opinion also emphasized the perfection of Case Guidance System as well as the division of simple and complicated cases. 

 Comments by Charles:

The Opinion emphasized the importance of judicial protection for IP which has been frequently compared with administrative protection system, particularly during the discussion of amendment to Patent Law since five years ago.

 Judge Tao emphasized during the press conference that judicial protection will remain to be the fundamental and principal remedies for IP infringements. In addition, Chinese courts will further promote the efficiency and completion for judicial protection to satisfy the needs of right holders.

 Judge Tao also introduced that 30% of cases tried by Beijing IP Court were foreign related cases and vowed to make Chinese courts the preferred priority venue for lawsuits initiated by multinational IP owners by establishing an IP judicial team that is proficient in law, technology and one with an international vision.

 4. Unification of Standard

The Opinion repeatedly empathized the desire of Supreme People’s Court to further improve the unification of standard of judgments. Among others, Judge Tao mentioned three major approaches including trial of cases, Judicial Interpretation and Judicial Opinion as well as Guidance Cases.

With regard to Guidance Cases System, Judge Tao pointed out the following:

(1) Supreme Court has published 92 Guiding Cases, which include merely 20 IP cases.

(2) Beijing IP Court has started to quote the Guiding Cases in its Judgments to illustrate the legal issues and analysis

(3) The Guiding Cases published by Supreme Court although not binding should be referred by other courts.

(4) Guiding cases include not only the official Guiding Cases(指导案例) of the Supreme Court but also the Top 10 IP cases and 50 Model Cases published annually for IP Day (4/26).

(5) Supreme Court has established Guiding Case Research Base(指导案例研究基地)in Beijing.

III. Perfection of IP Court System

1. Establish the complete IP Trial System

The Opinion confirms to conduct research regarding the establishment of IP appellate court system, in order to realize the professionalization of personnel and concentrated jurisdiction and to fundamentally solve the problems of disunities standard of trial of IP cases, complication of trial procedure and other obstacles.

Comments by Charles Feng:

The establishment of IP Court in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou have substantially contributed to the professionalization of personnel and concentrated jurisdiction.

The establishment of IP appellate court in the discussion refers to further expansion of the IP professional court system in other provinces aiming to cover the entire country and finalize the nation-wide appellate court system.

2. Exploration of establishment of Concentrated Jurisdiction for cases in Different provinces

Fully systemize the resources of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei province, in order to explore the concentrated jurisdiction in Beijing for technical IP cases in Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei Province.

Comments by Charles Feng:

The competence of IP court in Beijing has been widely recognized particularly has advantage against its peers in Tianjin and Hebei. The consideration of concentrated jurisdiction for Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei will likely help to improve the level of trial in the other two provinces.

IV. Improvement of Arrangement and Coordination of IP Trial

The Opinion promised to actively promote the amendment of People’s Court Organization Law, Patent Law, Copyright Law and other procedural laws, as well as to research special procedural law for IP trial, in order to systemize the organization of courts, jurisdiction, evidentiary rule, procedure and method of trial.

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