On February 26, 2021, the Intellectual Property Court of the Supreme People’s Court published the 10 Technology-based Intellectual Property Rights Model Cases in 2020 (the “Cases”). The Cases play an important role in providing guidance in technology-based intellectual property rights judgments. Two of the cases are selected for brief analysis.
The Intellectual Property Court of the Supreme People’s Court has actively promoted retroactive enforcement of rights and management of lawsuit sources in a series of cases involving selfie sticks and lighters. In the series of cases involving a “selfie stick” utility model patent, the rights holder filed separate lawsuits against manufacturers and sellers nationwide to assert the patent rights, and the Intellectual Property Court of the Supreme People’s Court guided the rights holder to assert its rights retroactively and manage the lawsuit sources, as well as enhanced the penalties for infringement by handing down a decision awarding RMB 1 million, the highest amount of statutory damages plus reasonable expenses to the extent permitted by law, based on the facts and in consideration of the subjective malice underlying the infringement in the case, the scale and method of infringement and other factors. As for the smaller retailers with smaller business scales and relatively minor involvement who had not received infringement warnings before the complaint was filed by the rights holder, since their infringement damages are below the RMB 30,000 lower limit of statutory damages, the court ordered a lower amount of RMB 2,000 for each individual industrial or commercial household to pay a lower amount of RMB 2,000 for economic losses.
The Supreme People’s Court has increased the punishment for obstructing the preservation of evidence. In the NX computer software copyright infringement case, in view of the hidden nature of software copyright infringement, after accepting the case, the Guangzhou Intellectual Property Court went to the defendant’s premises to preserve evidence upon the plaintiff’s application. When it was partially ascertained that the infringing acts had existed, the defendant suddenly took resistance measures and employed methods such as refusal to turn on some computers, cutting off power, seizing court cameras and preventing the court staff from leaving to obstruct the evidence preservation process. As a result, the evidence preservation was forced to be terminated. After considering the amount of infringement, the price of the software at issue, the defendant’s unjustified obstruction of the preservation of evidence and other factors in this case, the Intellectual Property Court of the Supreme People’s Court awarded a larger amount of statutory damages and demanded the defendant to compensate the plaintiff for its economic loss of about RMB 2.61 million.