The People’s Republic of China has become a world leader in both patent applications and patent litigation after the Chinese government enacted new policies to stimulate domestic innovation and patent activities. These major developments have made China an integral venue of international patent protection for inventors and entrepreneurs. However, due to the lack of judicial transparency before 2014, most people had virtually no access to Chinese patent litigation data and knew little about how Chinese courts adjudicated patent cases. Instead, outside observers were left with a variety of impressions and had to guess how the courts adjudicates these cases based on the plain texts of the Chinese Patent Law and the limited number of cases released by the press. However, starting January 1, 2014, China mandated public access to all judgments via a database called China Judgements Online (CJO), making empirical studies possible. This Article analyzes all publicly available final patent infringement cases decided by local People’s Courts in 2014. Surprisingly, findings in this Article contradict the long-standing beliefs held by many people about patent enforcement in China. One prominent example is that foreign patent holders were as likely as domestic patent holders to litigate and foreign patent holders received noticeably better results—specifically, higher win rates, injunction rates, and average damages. Another example is that plaintiffs won in 80.16% of all patent infringement cases and automatically got permanent injunctions in 90.25% of cases where courts found patent infringement. These new findings indicate that patent protection in China is stronger than once believed.
Patent Litigation in China: Challenging Conventional Wisdom,
33 Berkeley Tech. L.J. 413