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Punitive damages in China’s new Civil Law

On 28 May, the Civil Law of the People's Republic of China was officially adopted, and it will come into force on January 1, 2021. This is a milestone in the history of civil legislation in China.

There are seven parts and 1260 articles in the Civil Law, which are general principles, property rights, contracts, personality rights, marriage and family, inheritance, tort liability and supplementary provisions.

As a kind of private right, intellectual property belongs to civil law. Although intellectual property does not appear in the Civil Law as an independent chapter, there are many provisions related to intellectual property and technology contract in the Civil Law.

Punitive damages for IP infringement

In order to strengthen the protection of IP rights and to increase the cost of infringement, the Civil Law stipulates that the owner of the infringed right can request punitive damages if the infringement is conducted intentionally and the circumstances are serious.

Article 63 of the China Trademark Law, which was revised and came into force in 2013, clearly stipulates punitive damages in trade mark infringement for the first time. The draft amendment to the China Patent Law published by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress on 4 January 2019 also provides for punitive damages. Article 17 of the Anti-Unfair Competition Law of 2019 stipulates punitive damages. And punitive damages are stipulated in Article 53 of the draft amendment to the Copyright Law published by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress on 26 April 2020.

The Supreme People's Court plans to draft the "Interpretation on Several Issues on the Application of Law Concerning Punitive Damages for Intellectual Property Infringement" in the first half of 2021.

The introduction of punitive damages into IP infringement disputes will help improve the protection of intellectual property rights, promote technology progress and innovation, and build a healthier market for investment. The implementation of the Civil Law is not just a declaration to strengthen the protection of civil rights. It opens a new era.

This news is written by Ling Zhao and first published in MARQUES on Wednesday, 3 June 2020.