On Saturday, the National People’s Congress of China enacted a measure establishing a new intellectual property court in the southern island of Hainan. China has sought to strengthen Hainan’s position as a global free trade port in the South China Sea, competing with other shipping centers in the area such as Hong Kong, Singapore, and Kaohsiung.
This is the fourth dedicated IP court established in mainland China, following those in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. China’s IP courts have specialized jurisdiction over civil and administrative cases involving patents, trade secrets, software, hardware, agricultural technology; civil, administrative, and criminal jurisdiction over intellectual property cases; and appellate jurisdiction over cases previously tried in Hainan courts. These courts have significantly broader jurisdiction than regional IP tribunals, such as those in Tianjin and Shenzhen, which do not share the “three-in-one” jurisdiction of the larger IP courts.
Hainan’s economy is primarily agricultural and tourism-based currently. Therefore, there are unlikely to be major disputes for the new court to adjudicate when the National People’s Congress’s measure enters into effect on January 1, 2021. However, goods imported to China via Hainan will be subject to a zero-tariff policy, provided the goods comply with a thirty percent value-added requirement, which is intended to draw high-tech industries to the island.