On 15 Mar., the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) released six typical cases on the application of punitive damages from IPR infringement claims.
These typical cases are thereby released to provide guidance to all courts across the country to accurately understand and apply the Interpretation of the Supreme People’s Court on the Application of Punitive Damages in the Trial of Civil Cases of Intellectual Property Infringement (最高人民法院关于审理侵害知识产权民事案件适用惩罚性赔偿的解释), so as to ensure the implementation of the punitive damages system.
The typical cases include the technical secret infringement case of Guangzhou Tinci Materials Technology Co., Ltd., et al. v. Anhui Newman Fine Chemicals Co., Ltd. et al. [(2019) Zui Gao Fa Zhi Min Zhong No. 562], the trademark infringement case of Inner Mongolia Erdos Resources Co., Ltd. v. Beijing Miqi Trading Co., Ltd. [(2015) Jing Zhi Min Chu No. 1677], the trademark infringement and unfair competition case of Xiaomi Technology Co., Ltd., et al. v. Zhongshan Povos Appliances Co., Ltd., et al. [(2019) Su Min Zhong No. 1316], the trademark infringement case of Wuliangye Yibin Co., Ltd. v. Xu Zhonghua, et al. [(2019) Zhe 8601 MIn Chu No.1364; (2020) Zhe 01 Min Zhong No. 5872], the trademark infringement case of Adidas Corporation v. Ruan Guoqiang, et al. [(2020) Zhe 03 Min Zhong No. 161], and the trademark infringement case of Opple Lighting Co., Ltd. v. Hunan Huasheng Group Co. Ltd. [(2019) Yue Min Zai No. 147].
The technical secret infringement case of Guangzhou Tinci Materials Technology Co., Ltd., et al. v. Anhui Newman Fine Chemicals Co., Ltd. et al. is the first case heard by the SPC to award punitive damages. In this case, when applying punitive damages, the SPC took into full consideration the factors including the bad faith of the accused infringer, committing infringement as its primary business, the act of spoliation of evidence, the duration of the alleged infringement, and the scale of infringement, and eventually determined to adopt the maximum multiple of statutory punitive damages (five folds), sending a significant signal to the public for strengthening the judicial protection of intellectual property rights.
In most cases, China's civil damages system does not support punitive damages but only compensation for the losses. However, it is clear that China is currently gradually accepting punitive damages in the field of intellectual property rights.
Contributors: CJO Staff Contributors Team