On 21 June 2021, the Shenzhen Administration for Market Regulation (Shenzhen AMR) issued the first administrative injunction against the alleged infringement of a design, providing an administrative tool to IP holders for the protection of intellectual property rights (IPRs). This tool is characterised by the advantages of the combination of speed and efficiency and it's now available for patents, designs and copyrights.
The context in which this injunction was issued concerns the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone, which is characterised by the large presence of hi-tech companies with a strong vocation for innovation. The speed of hi-tech evolution brings out new ways of infringement of IPRs, and that's why the Shenzen AMR has long been engaged in finding new ways to combat the violation of IPRs, also thanks to the deployment of officials, very young and close to new technologies, with a good level of education and a good legal background that allows them to seek new solutions – even creative – to strengthen the protection in favor of IP holders.
The decision in question was based on a set of local IP regulations implemented in 2019 to ensure a better protection of IP rights associated with the local innovation boom in new technologies. Already in mid-2019, this administration began to implement local regulations – Shenzhen Special Economic Zone Regulations on the protection of IP rights – among which we report article 28 which provides:
“Upon receipt of a complaint of infringement of intellectual property rights by a right holder or an interested party, the relevant municipal department or other administrative departments may, if there is evidence to prove the existence of facts of infringement, first issue an injunction ordering the alleged infringer to immediately cease the alleged infringement and deal with the case in accordance with law. Prior to the issuance of an injunction, the right holder or interested party may be required to provide adequate security. If, after investigation, the infringement is not established, the injunction shall be lifted without delay.”
This precedent set by the AMR of Shenzhen could now be adopted by local administrative authorities in other cities and provinces and could therefore revolutionize the way some IP rights – including designs, patents and copyrights – have been protected so far.
This type of injunction, if applied consistently as in this first decision, would allow the holders of design, patents and copyrights to act very quickly and with a substantial economic saving compared to traditional civil or administrative cases – a potentially prohibitive burden, especially against minor forms of online violation. Such a reform would in fact provide a tool to protect against the myriad of small online counterfeiters who often cannot be countered with the same efficiency and effectiveness with normal litigation tools.