IP Protection

In 1998, China established the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO), with the vision that it would coordinate China’s IP enforcement efforts by merging the patent, trademark and copyright offices under one authority. However, this has yet to occur. Today, SIPO is responsible for granting patents (national office), registering semiconductor layout designs (national office), and enforcing patents (local SIPO offices), as well as coordinating domestic foreign-related IPR issues involving copyrights, trademarks and patents.

Protection of IP in China follows a two-track system. The first and most prevalent is the administrative track, whereby an IP rights holder files a compliant at the local administrative office. The second is the judicial track, whereby complaints are filed through the court system. (China has established specialized IP panels in its civil court system throughout the country.) Determining which IP agency has jurisdiction over an act of infringement can be confusing. Jurisdiction of IP protection is diffused throughout a number of government agencies and offices, with each typically responsible for the protection afforded by one statute or one specific area of IP-related law. There may be geographical limits or conflicts posed by one administrative agency taking a case, involving piracy or counterfeiting that also occurs in another region. (In recognition of these difficulties, some regional IP officials have discussed plans for creating cross-jurisdictional enforcement procedures.) China’s courts also have rules regarding jurisdiction over infringing or counterfeit activities, and the scope of potential orders.

For administrative enforcement actions, the following is a list of the major players. Again this list is not exhaustive, as other agencies, such as State Drug Administration (for pharmaceutical counterfeits) or the Ministry of Culture (for copyright materials and markets) may also play a role in the enforcement process. In most cases, administrative agencies cannot award compensation to a rights holder. They can, however, fine the infringer, seize goods or equipment used in manufacturing products, and/or obtain information about the source of goods being distributed.
Administration for Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ), China’s standard setting agency is primarily tasked with ensuring Chinese product quality and standards, also handles infringements of registered trademarks, when the infringing products are inferior or shoddy quality goods. AQSIQ also issued administrative regulations regarding protection of geographic indications separately recognized by China.
General Administration of Quality Supervision Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ)
10A Chaowai Dajie
Beijing, China 100020
Fax: 86-10-6599-4421
http://aqsiq.gov.cn (Chinese)
State Administration on Industry and Commerce (SAIC), Trademark Office. The Trademark Office, under the State Administration on Industry and Commerce (SAIC) maintains authority over trademark registration, administrative recognition of well-known marks, and enforcement of trademark protection. The Fair Trade Bureau handles disputes arising under the Law to Counter Unfair Competition, including trade secret matters. In enforcement efforts, SAIC has the power to investigate the case. When an infringement is determined, SAIC has the power to order that the sale of infringing items cease and to stop further infringement, order the destruction of infringing marks or products, impose fines, and remove machines used to produce counterfeit goods.
State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC)
Trademark Office
8 Sanlihe East Road
Xicheng District
Beijing, 100820
Tel: 86-10-6803-2233
Fax: 86-10-6801-0463
http://www.saic.gov.cn (Chinese language only)
http://www.tmo.gov.cn (Chinese/English)
State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) at the national level is responsible for the examination of foreign and domestic patents and supervision of local SIPO bureaus. Provincial offices generally handle the administrative enforcement of patent complaints.
State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO)
No 6 Xitucheng Road
Haidian District
P.O. Box 8020
Beijing, China 1000088
Tel: 86-10-6209-3268
Fax: 86-10-6201-9615
http://www.sipo.gov.cn (Chinese/English)
National Copyright Administration (NCA) is responsible for copyright administration and enforcement. NCA is also responsible for nationwide copyright issues, including investigating infringement cases, administering foreign-related copyright issues, developing foreign-related arbitration rules and supervising administrative authorities. Though administrative remedies are available, NCA generally encourages complainants to use the court system due to lack of personnel.
National Copyright Administration of China (NCAC)
85 Dongsi Nan Dajie
Beijing, China 100703
Tel:  86-10-6512-7869 or 6527-6930
Fax: 86-10-6512-7875
http://www.ncac.gov.cn (Chinese/English)
General Administration of Customs (GAC). The Customs Regulations ban the import/export of IPR infringing goods. In order for Customs to exercise this right, the IP holder must record its IP with Customs. The recordal certificate issued by Customs is valid for seven years and is renewable for seven-year periods. When a right holder suspects infringing goods are about to enter or exit China, he/she may submit a written application to Customs at the suspected point of entry or exist where protection is sought. When Customs’ investigation reveals a case of infringement, it has the authority to confiscate the goods, and may destroy or remove the infringing goods, and impose a fine.
General Administration of Customs
6 Jianguomenwai DaJie
Beijing, China 100730
Tel: 86-10-6519-5243 or 6519-5399
Fax: 86-10-6519-5394

Shanghai Customs:
Tianjin Customs:
Guangzhou Customs: http://haiguan.gzfeihua.com/customs.htm
Public Security Bureau (police)/Procuratorate (prosecutors). Under enforcement provisions of TRIPs, China must provide IP remedies through criminal enforcement for commercial scale piracy and counterfeiting. China’s laws and regulations stipulate that IP administrative authorities and Customs may transfer egregious IP infringement cases to police and prosecutors (procuratorate) for initiating criminal investigation. Despite these criminal provisions, most IP cases continued to be handled through the administrative system. Under Chinese law, individuals also have the right to prosecute criminal cases (zisu), which has rarely been used.
Ministry of Public Security
14 DongchangAn Street

Beijing, China 100741
Tel: 86-10-6520-2114
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Website: http://www.mps.gov.cn (Chinese)
Regional IPR Bureau. In an attempt to coordinate local IP enforcement efforts, some provinces and municipalities in China have established IPR bureaus or IPR committees to coordinate public awareness campaigns and, to a more limited extent, enforcement. A local IPR bureau is generally a good source for companies seeking information on local regional enforcement mechanisms.

Judicial System. The second track companies can pursue is through civil actions in the local People’s Court. Since 1993, China has maintained Intellectual Property Tribunals in the Intermediate People’s Courts and Higher People’s Courts throughout the countries. The total volume of civil IP litigation in China is considerably less than administrative litigation. Though small companies may prefer to pursue the administrative route, it is expected that the number of IP litigation cases will significantly increase with recent changes in IP laws. Appeals of administrative IPR determinations, such as fines, are generally made to Administrative Tribunals of the Supreme People’s Court (SPC), while the Criminal Tribunals of the SPC are likely to hear criminal cases.

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