Beijing 12312: Improving the Efficiency of IP Law Enforcement

Issue 25 By Li Wei China IP,[Comprehensive Reports]

In 2006, on the sixth World Intellectual Property Day, China’s General Office of the State Council promulgated the China’s Action Plan on IPR Protection (“Action Plan”). The Action Plan proposed that China would establish Service Centers for Intellectual Property Protection in 50 cities and the telephone number 12312 would be used as the service number for these centers. The Beijing Service Center for Intellectual Property Protection (Beijing 12312) was established in June, 2006. It’s one of the earliest 12312 centers in China and improves the efficiency of IP law enforcement.

Before the establishment of Beijing 12312, the State Office of Intellectual Property Protection considered that the function of Beijing 12312 was not only to collect evidence, but also to enhance supervision. Wang Lianjie, the director of Beijing 12312 said: “The establishment of Beijing 12312 indicates two important aspects of a turning point in IP enforcement in China. First, it improves the efficiency of IP law enforcement and, second, it lessens foreign pressure for IPR protection.” The law enforcement system in China is quite complex. Establishing a comprehensive organization may promote communication among related organizations and standardize law enforcement's working mechanisms. It also plays a promotional role in the formulation of evidence standardization and the procedure of work. In recent years, more and more foreign-related intellectual property complaint have been raised in China, but the mechanism has always been insufficient to deal with them, which is one of the reason for setting up the Beijing 12312.

Assisting rights protection, law enforcement an policy-making

At the outset, Vice-Premier Wu Yi directed that all 12312 centers in China should focus on service. Based on its own characteristics, Beijing has proposed the following working concepts: to assist private and public enforcement, and to assist the policy-making process.

Assisting rights protection is beneficial to save costs. To people not familiar with intellectual property protection channels, involving private enforcement seems to be costly process of massive investment of time and money. But a perfect intellectual property rights consulting platform would no doubt facilitate this process. By providing intellectual property protection advisory services to the rights holders and to the public, Beijing 12312 reduces their time and money costs significantly. For example, the accuser and the complainant may consult with different agencies regarding intellectual property rights by telephone. They can submit all of their questions about the cases, including questions related to legal information. They can also inquire into new problems arising in the process. While managing complex situations, Beijing 12312 also carries on research from the complainant and informant viewpoint, such as attorney selection, and the choice between administrative law enforcement and litigation, and so on. Thus, by consulting with 12312, the complainant and informant may save consultation expenses and time. From June, 2006, to the end of June, 2008, Beijing 12312 has received 8,381 report, transferred 514 cases to other law enforcement agencies, and settled 433 cases which make up 84% of all cases.

Assisting law enforcement is beneficial to improve the efficiency of IP law enforcement. Beijing 12312 receives all intellectual property protection related cases, such as trademark rights, patent, and copyright infringement. It carries on preliminary examinations and transmits corresponding cases to administrative law enforcement institutions, public security bureaus, and judicial institutions. It also gives prompt feedback to the complainants and informants. Beijing 12312’s professional communication with other agencies eliminates the possible communication barriers. Also, through the high-tech method, Beijing 12312 can follow cases and liberate law enforcement officials from this type of work. It’s beneficial to optimize the law enforcement and improve the efficiency of law enforcement.

Assisting policy-making is beneficial to make macroscopic policies. Beijing 12312 has the advantage of receiving social suggestions directly. After careful analysis, Beijing 12312 provides related problems and suggestions to these government sections and policy-makers as references to make legislative, regulatory and professional standards.

Comprehensive and professional

China has a unique, parallel system for the enforcement of intellectual property rights, so there are several law administrative sections, including: the State Intellectual Property Office; the Patent Office; the State Administration for Industry and Commerce; the Trademark Office; the Cultural Bureau; the Press and Publication Bureau; the Copyright Bureau; the Agriculture Bureau; the Forestry Bureau; the Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine; the Ministry of Information Industry; the National Copyright Administration; and the Service Center for Intellectual Property Protection. Thus, overlapping law enforcement is unavoidable. In comparison, the unique characteristic of Beijing 12312 is the comprehensive service. Because other law enforcement agencies do not only accept intellectual property cases, but other cases as well, intellectual property services only occupy a small part of their overall work, so it is impossible for them to focus on intellectual property alone. For instance, the State Administration for Industry and Commerce accepts trademark cases, while the Patent Office accepts patent cases. However, Beijing 12312 focuses on all intellectual property cases and does not require complex evidentiary materials. Those cases with enough conditions can be transmitted to other corresponding law enforcement agencies directly and they will inform the obligees to submit evidentiary materials. Therefore, it becomes the most important link to improve the efficiency of law enforcement.

The professional work of Beijing 12312 requires professional staffs. Its rights protection services and law enforcement services are mainly carried out by the complaint receiving department. In addition to receiving complaints and coordinating with other related agencies, the staffs also conduct analytical studies on important major issues and prepare reports for the authorities. Pang Tie, the minister of Beijing 12312’s complaint receiving department indicated that all of the staff in that department have a legal background with a bachelor’s degree or above, and also have good English proficiency. Also, they must all acquire national qualification certificates promulgated by the State Office of Intellectual Property Protection. The staffs have guaranteed Beijing 12312’s professional advice, regardless of whether they involve legal questions or foreign complaints. If there are some questions that are difficult to explain, the complainants and accusers may also carry on consultations in advance.

Responsibility agreement: the imperial sword for coordinating law enforcement

The traditional law enforcement synchronizing agencies’ main works are communicating with related agencies and making collective reports. But the coordinating work of Beijing 12312 speeds the integration of law enforcement. Soon after the establishment of Beijing 12312, several foreign trademark obligees complained to Beijing 12312 about a clothing market in Beijing that was said to be involved in the infringement of trademark rights. Beijing 12312 found that the Beijing Bureau for Industry and Commerce requests that foreign trademark suits need notarization authentication. But it would take 2-4 months to process the legalization. It would be too late to investigate the case. Therefore, Beijing 12312 invited the representative obligees, the law enforcement’s officials, the related law experts to hold a seminar on this case. At last, the law enforcement sections decided to handle the case first, then complete the notarized authentication in support of the warrant. Afterward, the Beijing Bureau for Industry and Commerce stipulated the foreign trademark complaint procedure.

After the clothing market case, Beijing 12132 realized that they needed powerful restraint to integrate law enforcement resources. Therefore, Beijing 12312 signed the Beijing Intellectual Property Protection Responsibility Agreement with other intellectual property agencies. This agreement has become an “imperial sword” in its efforts to coordinate law enforcement agencies. The agreement establishes legal registration standards, law enforcement procedures, manages work procedure procedures, and time limits. It not only creates fairness and enhances transparency in law enforcement work, but also enhances the efficiency and quality of intellectual property cases. Afterward,in response to new problems, Beijing 12312 proposed executive regulations which describe receiving, transmission, feedback and reporting procedures. At the same time, the Beijing Office of Intellectual Property Protection coordinates and supervises important cases and regularly carries on inspection and notification to law enforcement. Thus, the procedures for coordination are more regulated.

Online case processing system enhances efficiency

The case processing services of Beijing 12312 are mainly provided online. The accuser and the complainant can register accusations and complaints through three main channels: by telephone, letter, and the internet. The telephone service offers a working system that is open for eight hours at a time. Accusations and complaints made after those hours can be registered using a telephone message system. However, in light of the time difference for those registering complaints and accusations from overseas, the online accusation and complaint system is available 24-hours a day. After receiving the accusation and complaint, the online platform records and classifies the information. Afterwards, using an online case processing system, Beijing 12312 classifies that information and coordinates with other agencies. The main agencies that receive these cases include: the Beijing Intellectual Property Bureau, the Beijing Administration for Industry and Commerce, the Beijing Public Security Bureau, the Beijing Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision, the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Agriculture, the Beijing Cultural Market Administrative Bureau, the Beijing Forestry Bureau, the Beijing City Management Administrative Bureau and Beijing Customs.

All of these agencies have departments to work with Beijing 12312 and receive these cases, such as 12315 of State Administration for Industry and Commerce, 96310 of the Municipal Administration, and the Economic Inspection Section of the Public Security Bureau. Then they inform the corresponding institutions to carry on law enforcement. After transmitting the case, the relevant law enforcement agencies will offer feedback at least twice. The first feedback provided concerns whether the agency has received the case. The second feedback describes the outcome of the case, such as confiscation, a fine, and so on. If there are any new problems, Beijing 12312 will continue to track the case and focus on it from time-to-time. The online case processing system has also prevented possible duplication in the accusation and complaint process. When the online system receives the case, Beijing 12312 not only confirms the information by telephone, but also checks the information in the online case processing system to determine whether the information has been duplicated. If the system demonstrates that the case has already been referred to the law enforcement agency, Beijing 12312 will not accept the duplicate complaint or accusation. This measure enhances the efficiency of law enforcement resources.

In 2007, a famous American entertainment company sued more than 30 audio and video shops in China for piracy. Beijing 12312 coordinated the initial consultation and reduced the foreign case cycle from the original six months to just 32 days. Recently, in view of the various intellectual property cases related to the Olympic Games, Beijing 12312 and other law enforcement agencies have created an online Olympic Games “green passage” to make the case cycle shorter for those cases.

Domestic and foreign cooperation arouse concerns 

As a capital city, the special position of Beijing dictates that Beijing 12312 must play a leading role in the intellectual property protection field. The State Office of Intellectual Property Protection has also recognized that if intellectual property protection work is completed well in Beijing, then the nation-wide intellectual property protection work will be cut in half. Certainly, the closer attention paid to the agency in Beijing creates certain pressure. As a center for the collection and distribution of goods, there are fewer intellectual property related cases in Beijing compared to other manufacturing cities. However, as the capital city, many foreigners consider that Beijing represents China and has tremendous international influence and political influence.

In 2007, when attending the Europe and China Business Summit, Premier Wen Jiabao emphasized that intellectual property protection work in China was sincere and that communication between China and Europe was improving day-by-day. In June, 2008, Wang Qishan published an article in the Wall Street Journal emphasizing that the Chinese government had been strengthening its intellectual property protection in recent years and had made great progress. The Chinese government will continue to strengthen its intellectual property protection through legislation and education in the future. The leaders’ emphasis on intellectual property protection has also encouraged Beijing 12312 to cooperate with other countries. Beijing 12312 has established close contact with foreign intellectual property organizations, such as the Intellectual Property Protection Office of the American Embassy, the China IPR SME Helpdesk, and JETRO. Through these organizations, China has expanded its international influence in the field of intellectual property protection.

In cooperation with the China IPR SME Helpdesk, many foreign small and medium-sized enterprises now consult with Beijing 12312. The Beijing 12312’s officials realize, obviously, that foreign intellectual property protection problems mainly concentrate on small and medium-sized enterprises. Because large-sized enterprises have their own legal counselors who understand China’s intellectual property conditions, they are better able to deal with judicial lawsuits and administrative law enforcement. These large-sized enterprises seek help from Beijing 12312, mainly because of the complexity of those cases. However, foreign small and medium-sized enterprises do not have these resources. Just like small and medium-sized enterprises in China, these foreign companies have a comparatively weaker understanding of intellectual property protection in China and cannot protect themselves well. As a result, some of these companies have complained about China’s intellectual property protection system. Through their cooperation efforts, Beijing 12312 helps to introduce the intellectual property system of China to these companies and reduces many misunderstandings.

Beijing 12312 also organizes many seminars for law enforcement agencies, obligees, attorneys, and social organizations. For example, for its seminar regarding the notarized authentication of foreign cases, Beijing 12312 invited judicial bureau officials and representative attorneys. These seminars provide a communication platform for the relevant people and also collect many important viewpoints. For the public, Beijing 12312 conducts an “open-house event” and also creates intellectual property programs with CCTV and BTV to educate the public about intellectual property protection. For various enterprises, Beijing 12312 holds forums and enterprise training courses, and launches public activities such as the “five approaches”: approaching enterprises, approaching parks, approaching campuses, approaching communities and approaching exhibition. Beijing 12312 has also established branches of intellectual property protection centers in the Beijing Economic Technological Development Area, the Chaoyang Central Business District, and Haidian’s Software Park to provide intellectual property advisory services in those local areas. With these measures, telephone inquiries seeking help and consultation have increased and the intellectual property protection consciousness of the public has been enhanced.

Along with the reformation of China’s General Office of the State Council, the function of Beijing 12312 will be more substantial and the responsibility of Beijing 12312 will be heavier. However, its nature of law enforcement resources integration platform will not change and they will plan and coordinate well in the future.

(Translated by Li Wei)

 

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