China Courts open to Foreigners on IPR Trials

Update:09 May 2007

China plans to improve the transparency of intellectual property rights (IPR) trials by allowing foreigners to sit in, a senior official said in Beijing on Wednesday.

Envoys of foreign governments and representatives of international organizations will be allowed to attend IPR trials if they wish, said Jiang Zengwei of the State Office of Intellectual Property Protection, quoting an action plan.

The country will publicize important trial information through the media, according to the plan released on Monday.

This is the first time China has allowed overseas representatives into public IPR trials, an official from the Supreme People's Court told Xinhua.

Diplomatic envoys and representatives of overseas companies involved in IPR disputes had been invited to trials in coastal regions like south China's Guangdong Province and east China's Shanghai in recent years, he said.

"It works pretty well," he said.

IPR violators generally receive fines instead of jail sentences, which helps explain why there are so many IPR infringements in China, experts say. IPR cases have been increasing by almost 50 percent per year.

Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi said on March 27 that the government would further improve the IPR protection system, strengthen law enforcement and enhance cooperation with other countries.

From 2002 to 2006, China's courts settled a total of 931 IPR violation cases in first instance trials. The figure for 2006 was 353 cases, up 52 percent on the previous year, according to the Supreme People's Court.


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