Along with the rapid progress of the global innovative economy, the importance of intellectual property rights to businesses has grown and the number of intellectual property (IP) applications and registrations has been increasing dramatically each year.
In 2014, patent applications worldwide grew by 4.5% to around 2.7 million, and trademark applications rose to around 7.44 million, with a growth of 6% (compared to 2013). Concurrently, more filings of IP rights in recent years have also resulted in more disputes related to IP. In China alone, the number of new first instance IP-related lawsuits in 2014 came to 116,528, marking a 15.6% increase over the previous year. More IP-related lawsuits have not only raised public awareness of the importance of IP enforcement, but have also led to increased reflection concerning the efficiency, impartiality and predictability of court trials for IP disputes.
These developments have led some countries to establish — or to consider establishing — specialised IP jurisdictions (SIPJs) for resolving IP-related disputes. Although created in the context of diverse legal, economic, cultural and historical frameworks, SIPJs have often been established in different countries for similar reasons — to increase judicial specialisation in IP-related issues, promote consistency and predictability in trials and case outcomes, and reduce the risk of judicial error — even if with local nuances.
However, the form that SIPJs take and the scope of their competence can vary widely from country to country. Some are empowered to try both administrative and civil IP disputes, such as China, Japan and Russia, while others may be purely civil or administrative. Some are established as separate judiciary institutions, totally independent of civil and administrative courts, and others are structured as a chamber or tribunal within a civil or commercial court. The modes of trial practiced by SIPJs also differ to some extent.
Aims and object of the report
ICC has prepared the present study to assist countries in their consideration of whether, and how, to establish or improve SIPJs so as to enhance overall efficiency and expertise in IP-related trials. The report provides an overview of the structures and trial procedures of SIPJs in various jurisdictions around the world, with a view to contributing to a better understanding of the current landscape of SIPJs and the way they function. It is intended to build on and complement work already done by the International Bar Association, and by the US Patent and Trademark Office and the International Intellectual Property Institute in this area by exploring more specific issues related to the functioning of SIPJs.
For the purposes of this report, a specialised IP jurisdiction may be broadly defined as a tribunal or court, or a permanent division or a chamber within a civil or commercial court or administrative body, having exclusive authority to hear IP disputes or a particular kind of IP dispute. The report focuses on contentious proceedings relating to IP infringements and the invalidation of registered IPRs; it does not deal with proceedings relating to the registration of IPRs or tribunals focused on the valuation of remunerative IPRs, such as copyright royalty tribunals.
Read the news story: New ICC report reveals the diversity of specialised jurisdictions.