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China Supreme Court Releases First Guiding Case On Intellectual Property

Publication Date: 
December 16, 2013
World Intellectual Property Report - BNA
Leslie A. Pappas

Mei Gechilk, Director of Stanford's China Guiding Cases Project, is mentioned by the World Intellectual Property Report regarding China's Supreme Court release of intellectual property guidelines.  

China's Supreme Court has released its first ever “guiding case” related to intellectual property, part of a growing system of cases intended to bring consistency and quality to the country's adjudication process.

The case was one of six guiding cases released by the Supreme People's Court Nov. 22, marking the fifth batch of cases released and bringing the total number of guiding cases to 22, according to state-run news agency Xinhua.


The guiding case marks the beginning of the issuance of intellectual property cases that will have “guiding effect” as defined by the rules issued by the court on guiding cases, according to Mei Gechlik, founder and director of the China Guiding Cases Project at Stanford Law School.

The guiding case system is intended to “unify application of law” and “enhance adjudication quality,” according to Fa Fa [2010] No. 51, Provisions of the Supreme People's Court Concerning Work on Guiding Cases, promulgated by the court on Nov. 26, 2010. “People's Courts at all levels should refer to the Guiding Cases released by the Supreme People's Court when adjudicating similar cases,” the provisions stated.


Although China is not a case law jurisdiction, guiding cases have been given an important role compared to other cases, Gechlik told Bloomberg BNA during an email exchange from Dec. 4 to Dec. 13.

“When asked whether these cases are binding, senior judges of the SPC replied, ‘No. But if they are not followed, there will be serious repercussions’,” Gechlik said. “They couldn't say ‘yes' because that would suggest fundamental changes to China's civil law system. But the second part of the response suggests that these cases have de facto binding effect. That's the major distinction between guiding cases and other cases such as ‘representative cases’.”

In September 2014, the China Guiding Cases Project will organize a program to train Chinese judges on guiding cases, since most legal experts in China are not trained in how to use them, Gechlik said.