News and Cases from China: January 2017

1. Canon fined RMB 300,000 (approx. US$ 43,000) for antitrust procedural breach

Issue date: 04 January, 2017

China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) has imposed an administrative penalty on Canon for having failed to follow the correct anti-trust procedures when declaring its acquisition of Toshiba Medical System Corporation. MOFCOM initiated an investigation on 21 October 2016 and found that the acquisition involved a concentration of business that required the appropriate declaration. Canon and Toshiba Medical each generated more than RMB 400 million in revenue; in 2015, their combined revenue was over 2 billion.  However, because the acquisition did not preclude or restrict competition, MOFCOM decided merely to impose an administrative fine of RMB 300,000 for failure to lodge the appropriate declaration.  The acquisition had originally been structured in two steps, but MOFCOM considered that viewed as a whole it fell within the provisions of Article 20 of the Anti-Monopoly Law.  A declaration was, therefore, required.

商务部条约法律司今日发布了针对佳能株式会社的行政处罚决定书。商务部于2016年10月21日依法对佳能收购东芝医疗全部股权涉嫌未依法申报案立案调查。经查,佳能收购东芝医疗构成未依法申报违法实施的经营者集中,但不具有排除、限制竞争的效果,决定对佳能处以30万元人民币罚款的行政处罚。该案所涉交易虽然分为两个步骤实施,但两个步骤紧密关联,均是佳能取得东芝医疗全部股权不可分割的组成部分,构成《反垄断法》第二十条规定的经营者集中。佳能和东芝医疗2015年度在中国境内的营业额均超过4亿元,且合计超过20亿元。

 

2. American Company, GPNE, claims compensation of RMB 900Million (approx. US$ 129 million) in patent infringement action against Apple

Issue date: 05 January, 2017

The third hearing in patent infringement proceedings relating to the iPad and various iPhone devices, GPNE v Apple, took place in the Shenzhen Intermediate People’s Court on 28 November 2016. The patent in suit, for a ‘paging method and device’, relates to the General Packet Radio Service standard. Since 2008, the plaintiff has sued Motorola, Cisco, Blackberry, Samsung, LG, Sony Ericsson, Sharp, HTC and other famous telecommunication device companies, reaching global settlements or signing patent licensing agreements. It also sued Nokia in China, subsequently reaching agreement with Microsoft after it acquired the Nokia mobile phone business. In the current proceedings, GPNE has increased its original damages claim to RMB 900 million, making it the highest IP damages claim in mainland China to date,

美国公司GPNE起诉苹果专利侵权一案于2016年11月28日在深圳中级人民法院第三次开庭,索赔数额追加到约9亿元,创下我国内地知识产权侵权索赔额最高纪录。该案涉及苹果iPad和iPhone系列7种型号的手机,涉案专利是名称为“寻呼方法及装置”的一种通信标准有关的基础发明。原告从2008年起在美国先后起诉摩托罗拉、思科、黑莓、三星、LG、索尼爱立信、夏普、HTC等多家知名移动通信设备公司,并先后与之达成了全球和解或签订了专利许可协议。告在中国还与华为公司通过友好协商方式签订了全球专利许可协议。另外还在中国起诉诺基亚公司,随后微软收购诺基亚手机业务与GPNE和解。

 

3. SPC releases Regulations on Several Issues concerning the Trial of Administrative Cases involving the Authorization and Determination of TM Rights

Issue date: 11 Jan, 2017

Effective date: 1 Mar, 2017

The SPC has released Regulations clarifying a number of important issues concerning administrative trade mark cases. The Regulation contain 31 provisions dealing with both substantive issues, such as the scope of examination, the requirement of distinctiveness, prior rights in relation to well-known marks, copyright issues, and rights in names, and procedural rules (statutory procedures and non bis in idem etc.). Song Xiaoming, the head of No. 5 civil tribunal of the Supreme People's Court, introduced and provided background to the main provisions of the Regulations as follows:

1. With reference to the original intention of the Trade Mark Law, the Regulations clarify a number of issues that have caused problems in practice. 

2. Article 15(3) gives effect to the principle of good faith, protecting prior rights and restricting malicious cybersquatting. Article 5 provides that the names of certain public figures cannot be registered as trade marks. Highly distinctive names of characters and works are protected by the ‘prior rights’ provisions in Article 32 of the Trademark Law and Article 22.2 of the Regulations

3. The Regulations will increase the efficiency of trade mark registration and the handling of disputes.  In particular, Articles 2 and 30 contain specific provisions in relation to the scope of jurisdiction in trade mark revocation cases. 

《授权确权规定》共31条,主要涉及审查范围、显著特征判断、驰名商标保护、著作权、姓名权等在先权利保护等实体内容,以及违反法定程序、一事不再理等程序内容,对商标授权确权行政案件所涉及的重要问题和审判实践中的难点问题进行了明确。最高人民法院民三庭庭长宋晓明介绍了规定的制定背景以及主要内容。主要内容有:

一、法律条文之间的界限,帮助准确适用法律。

二、倡导诚实信用原则。《规定》第十五条第三款保护在先权利,遏制恶意抢注;《规定》第五条明确某些公众人物姓名无法申请注册为商标;有较高知名度的作品名称、角色名称纳入商标法第三十二条规定的“在先权益”和《规定》第二十二条第二款予以保护。

三、充分发挥司法审查功能,加大实质性解决纠纷力度,提高商标授权确权效率。《规定》第二条、第三十条涉及人民法院对商标授权确权行政行为审查的范围。

 

4. Establishment of Intellectual Property Courtrooms in Nanjing and Suzhou

Issue date: 22 Jan, 2017

With the approval of the Supreme People's court, Intellectual Property Courtrooms were established in Nanjing and Suzhou on 19th December. The Courts will have cross-regional jurisdiction, which means that they will deal with most of the intellectual property cases in Jiangsu.

In October 2016, the Supreme People's Court requested the establishment of courtrooms with cross-regional-jurisdiction in relation to intellectual property cases, before March 2017, in Nanjing, Suzhou, Chengdu, and Wuhan. In 2014, Intellectual Property Courts were established in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou: the establishment of these courtrooms continues the trend towards centralised jurisdiction in complex intellectual property cases

According to Li Hongjian, Committee Member of the Judicial Committee and President of the Third Civil Court of Jiangsu High People's Court, the Nanjing Intellectual Property Courtroom will have jurisdiction over first instance technical cases in the territories of Nanjing, Zhenjiang, Yangzhou, Taizhou, Yancheng, Huaian and Suqian, Xuzhou and Lianyungang. The Suzhou Intellectual Property Courtroom will have jurisdiction over Suzhou, Wuxi, Changzhou and Nantong. The two courtrooms will also have jurisdiction over first instance IP administrative cases and ordinary civil intellectual property cases where the amount involved is more than three million RMB.

经最高人民法院批复同意,南京、苏州知识产权法庭19日成立,江苏省内各市的大部分知识产权案件将分别在这两个法庭进行跨区域集中审理,这意味着跨区域集中管辖技术类案件已成主流趋势。

2016年10月,最高法要求2017年3月前在南京、苏州、成都、武汉四地设立知识产权案件跨区域管辖法庭。这也是自2014年北上广三家知识产权法院相继设立之后,专利等技术类案件集中管辖的又一布局。

江苏省高院审委会委员、民三庭庭长李红建介绍,南京知识产权法庭审理发生在南京、镇江、扬州、泰州、盐城、淮安、宿迁、徐州、连云港市辖区内的专利等技术类一审知识产权民事案件。苏州知识产权法庭审理发生在苏州、无锡、常州、南通市辖区内的专利等技术类一审知识产权民事案件。还审理发生在以上各市辖区内诉讼标的额为300万元以上的一审普通知识产权民事案件以及发生在以上各市辖区内一审知识产权行政案件等。

 

5. Huawei and ZTE are settling patent disputes comprehensively

Issue date: 17 Jan, 2017

These two companies, competitors in both domestic and international markets, have for years been involved in litigation in many countries, including China. Recently, they have agreed to settle all actions in China.

In one of the latest cases, Huawei had filed an invalidity challenge in relation to ZTE’s invention patent for “a wireless card and computer data interaction method”, with the Patent Re-examination Board of the State Intellectual Property Office (the Board). The challenge was unsuccessful and Huawei brought the case to the Beijing Intellectual Property Court (BIPC). The BIPC found that the Board’s decision should be revoked on the ground of violation of legal procedures. ZTE refused to accept the verdict and appealed to the Beijing Higher People's Court. 

The Beijing Higher People’s Court has now made a final ruling allowing Huawei to withdraw its action, which, in effect, revokes the first-Instance ruling of the BIPC.

华为、中兴专利纠纷全面和解

近日,北京市高级人民法院作出终审裁定,准许华为撤回起诉,并撤销北京知识产权法院一审判决。

华为于2014年10月10日,就中兴持有的名称为"一种无线网卡与计算机的数据交互方法"的发明专利,向国家知识产权局专利复审委员会提出了无效宣告请求,请求宣告该专利权利要求全部无效。国家知识产权局专利复审委员会作出维持专利权有效。华为不服该决定并向北京知识产权法院起诉,知识产权法院以违反法定程序为由撤销了原裁定。随后,中兴不服一审判决,又上诉至北京市高级人民法院。

至此,华为、中兴在国内数十件知识产权纠纷全面进入“停战”和解阶段。与此同时,这也为相关企业走出去、开拓国际市场扫除了后顾之忧。