In 2016, the Supreme People’s Court of the People’s Republic of China (“SPC”) promulgated "Guiding Opinions on Comprehensively Promoting the Synchronous Generation and In-depth Application of Electronic Case Files with Cases by the People’s Courts" with an aim to promoting the electronic management of litigation matters. Two years later, the SPC issued a notice to courts at all levels across the country, urging them to further accelerate the synchronous generation and in-depth application of electronic case files (“Electronic Project”). Following the SPC’s request, the Beijing Intellectual Property Court published a proposal on submitting litigation materials online in electronic form (“Proposal”) on 25 June 2023.
The Beijing IP Court was established in 2014, although the Beijing Intermediate and Higher Courts had dedicated IP tribunals before this time. It has jurisdiction over various intellectual property civil and administrative cases. According to the Proposal, the Electronic Project has applied to all types of cases under the jurisdiction of Beijing IP Court since 1 May 2023; and from now on, cases such as those involving the review of rejected trademark applications and civil fast-track cases are to require the submission of electronic litigation materials in accordance with Guidelines for Submitting Electronic Litigation Materials in Administrative Cases of Refusal Review (for Trial Implementation) issued as an attachment to the Proposal. All litigation materials for all cases under the jurisdiction of Beijing IP Court are to be submitted electronically in accordance with the guidelines in the Proposal from 15 July 2023.
According to the guidelines in the proposal, it is recommended that parties or litigation representatives apply for online filing and submit evidence materials in electronic form through one of the official platforms such as the Beijing Court Electronic Litigation Platform, People’s Court Online Service Platform, Supreme Lawyer Service Platform and/or Jingzhi Online. If a case needs to be filed on-site, electronic litigation materials must be submitted in the form of a CD. If they need to be filed by mail, litigation materials, except those required to be submitted in the form of original copies on paper, are to be submitted in the form of a CD. During the trial process, supplementary litigation materials are to be submitted online in PDF format through one of the official platforms.
The Guidelines for Administrative Cases of Refusal Review define electronic litigation materials (“e-materials”) as filing materials and litigation materials filed by parties online through one of the official platforms including complaints, case element tables, subject qualification certificates, agency procedures, statements of defence, proxy opinion, application and evidence and electronic evidence submitted by parties in the form of a CD. Meanwhile, it gives guidance on the submission and production of e-materials.
For the production of e-materials, litigation documents including statement of complaint and statement of defence should be prepared with reference to the samples provided by Beijing Higher People’s Court, and case element tables should be completed/filed according to the template provided by Beijing IP Court. The content of e-materials must be clearly identifiable, and colour documents should be scanned and provided in their original colour. It is stated that the size of a single uploaded file should not exceed 100Mb. Although the requirements of the Proposal are instructive, they will become mandatory after the transition period, namely from 15 July 2023. All civil and administrative intellectual property cases under the jurisdiction of the Beijing IP Court will need to be submitted online according to the requirements in the Proposal. It is hoped that this project will be rolled out smoothly, given the highly technical nature of evidence and submissions often provided to the Beijing IP Court regarding complicated intellectual property disputes.