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Economy

China to set up intellectual property courts

BEIJING -- China will create intellectual property rights courts in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou within the next three years to better process the growing number of cases and meet international expectations.

     The courts could be set up as early as next spring. They will handle patent lawsuits, as well as civil and administrative cases dealing with highly technical and specialized information, such as semiconductor designs and new plant varieties.

     A preliminary plan has already been passed by a committee of the Chinese national assembly, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reports.

     All cases contesting decisions by Chinese authorities will be handled by the Beijing court. Lawsuits originating in the basic people's courts could move up to the intellectual property courts when appealed. Those that start out in the intellectual property courts, if appealed, would go to the higher people's courts in their respective cities.

     The plan also includes provisions to train judges in intellectual property matters and boost the overall quality of these trials.

     The three cities were chosen for their high concentrations of patent applications and strong existing judicial systems, the supreme court explained.

     China has seen a surge in intellectual property cases as its economy develops. New lawsuits filed in regional courts nearly tripled between 2009 and 2013 to 88,583, according to a survey by the authorities.

     The country first set up a courtroom for intellectual property cases at the Beijing local people's court in 1993 and has since created them at about 400 courts nationwide. But the recent boost has overwhelmed the system because the cases take time to process and many judges lack the necessary expertise.

     China hopes that the new courts will signal a change in its judicial system, which has been criticized globally for its inability to protect intellectual property, and attract more foreign companies.

     This could also help China seal more economic agreements with other nations. Many developed countries have demanded that China improve its legal regime for intellectual property as a condition for free trade agreements and investment protection pacts.

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