Putting Numbers to Feelings: Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement in China’s Courts—Evidence from Zhejiang Province Trademark Infringement Cases 2004–2009

Snyder, Nathan W. | January 1, 2012

China is not known for protecting intellectual property rights. Anecdotal evidence of counterfeit products and foreign companies claiming unfair treatment in the country’s courts is ubiquitous. Yet there is a dearth of data on the actual events that take place in Chinese courts. This report analyzes the most extensive published survey of trademark infringement court decisions in China. The survey data is a collection of trademark cases from the Zhejiang province during 2004–2009. It suggests that domestic Chinese support the concept of trademarks and trademark litigation with over 76% of disputes being filed by Mainland plaintiffs. Furthermore, this article finds that case outcomes are not affected by litigants’ nationalities or locations; in fact, foreign companies were more likely to both win and receive compensation through either adjudication or mediation. The data shows that case outcomes are directly influenced by judges’ annual performance reviews and indicates a shift away from adjudication. The author finds that since 2006–2007 there has been a trend toward resolving trademark disputes through mediation and settlement. This article also measures and discusses changes in the speed of litigation during the period studied.