China to establish first ever IP court
Two more to follow by the end of the year as part of broader legal reform
China will establish its first dedicated intellectual property court in Beijing in the coming weeks, with similar courts in Shanghai and Guangzhou to follow before the end of the year.
According to a report from Reuters, the new courts will focus on cases involving patent and trademark violations, and issues around computer software. In addition, the Chinese Supreme Court will establish an "IP protection research centre," one of the duties of which will be to train investigators to assist in legal cases.
"This will be an important revolution of the country's judicial system to deal with IP-related cases," said Wang Chuang, the deputy presiding judge with the Supreme Court's IP division.
For international companies interested in the Chinese market, this will be seen as a positive step towards a more secure business environment. The Office of the United States Trade Representative has included China on its list of countries with lacklustre IP protection in every one of the 25 years it has existed, but the local government is now engaged with reforming its laws and regulations around patents, copyright, trade secrets and IP.
The existence of these courts will be relevant to a wide range of businesses, not least the game developers and publishers excited by the potential of China's huge and increasingly tech-savvy population.
In July last year, for example, China Telecom highlighted 408 clones of Halfbrick's Fruit Ninja for Android, the most popular mobile OS in the country. Indeed, violations of that kind have been so prevalent in China that companies like PopCap and Rovio have been forced to ignore them as legal concerns, choosing instead to see pirated and cloned games and counterfeit merchandise as a positive sign of local interest in their products.
With the Xbox One now available in China, and Sony preparing to launch the PlayStation 4, the protection of IP is more relevant to games than ever before.