(By Lisa Li) In accordance with relevant laws of People’s Republic of China (“PRC), judicial interpretation by PRC Supreme People’s Court, judicial interpretation by local Superior People’s Courts and local regulations and based on the author’s research into and analysis of over two dozens of litigation cases from Shanghai and Beijing etc, the author elaborates on the application of laws on non-competition clauses from the perspective of Chinese employment law practice. The following is Part I of this topic on application of laws on non-competition clauses.
Pursuant to the Anti-Monopoly Law, the Civil Procedure Law and the Arbitration Law, there is no limitation of applying arbitration clause as a settlement to monopoly disputes in China. The Arbitration is well acknowledged for its confidentiality, flexible legal or commercial basis of arbitrating and its finality of one award, which are perfectly adapted to the requirements of confidentiality, efficiency and reliance on customs in business operation. Therefore, the practice of arbitration clause can bring about significant values and meanings to commercial subjects, and furthermore help indicate various risks and opportunities of different timing in relevant market. In this essay, we will introduce relevant cases and investigate whether the judicial opinions on arbitration clauses applied in monopoly disputes are appropriate.
(By Ning Tinggang) Beijing Intellectual Property Court recently introduced some movie, TV series, music, animation and game related cases it heard in 2015 and 2016 via its public WeChat platform, including the trademark “Kuroko Basketball” invalidity case which inspired me. The way that the court dealt with this case shows a new trend of protecting merchandizing interests which we legal professionals should pay attention to.
Kuroko Basketball is a popular comic work about basketball created by ふじまき ただとし, a Japanese comics artist. The work was serialized on the magazine SHONEN JUMP published by Shueisha since the second issue in 2009, and then was adapted for an animation and first broadcast on 7th April 2012. The plaintiff, SL Sport Ltd. in Kaiping (“SL Company”), filed a trademark-register application to the trademark office on 19th July 2012. As approved, this trademark (“Disputed Trademark”) should be used under Class 25. In addition, SL Company registered tens of trademarks closely connected with popular comics works such as Kuroko Basketball and SLAM DUNK that Shueisha had published, including trademarks used under Class 18, 24, 25, 35 and other types of commodities or services. Thus, Shueisha filed a request for declaration of invalidity of the Disputed Trademark.
(By Wang Ting)Recently the court has approved of the attorney fee up to 1 million RMB in an IPR case, and it is the first time that the court has applied time-based billing to calculate such attorney fee. Meanwhile in this case, the court has also confirmed the principles of determining the attorney fee on three items. Today, we are going to go through this case and discuss about the reasons why the court has fully approved of the attorney fee this time.
Plaintiff: Beijing Watchdata Technologies Co., Ltd (the “Watchdata”)
(By Yue Mengyan) An employee violates non-competition clause in his previous labor contract with his former employer, and works for a new employer, which has a competitive relationship with his former one. Could the former employer claim the new employer to be liable for such infringement, in addition to the employee’s liability for breach of contract? Pursuant to relevant laws and regulations in China, we will introduce a case and make our analysis in the following.
Appellant (defendant of first instance): Liu Guoqing
(By You Yunting) The other day I had a conversation with a lawyer of a foreign law firm. That lawyer, who specializes in handling legal affairs of VIE financing on behalf of the investment side, told me that many startups would sign investment agreements proposed by investors directly without any argument. To be honest, I can hardly understand nor agree with this kind of practice. I think investors may actually feel ambivalence in face of such situation, too. On one hand, they can get more control over the invested business as well as other extra benefits. With probably unfair terms being included in an investment agreement, investors may be happy to have a favorable position in the relationships with startups. On the other hand, the investors are expecting to gain lucrative profits, so they may doubt whether the startups will be able to win fierce competitions of the market as they behaved so obediently when making investment agreements. This article talks about common points of financing negotiation between startups and investors as well as startups’ internal equity allocation issues.
(By Yu Zhiyuan) I recently represented a client who was finally the winning party to a typical franchise dispute case, from which we can learn most legal risks possibly facing franchisors and franchisees during their performance of franchise business as well as operational standards and risk control measures for businesses in the brand chain industry.
- Case Facts
In this case, the franchiser, owner of a well-known early childhood education brand, entered into a franchise agreement with each franchisee to perform franchise activities as a chain store dealing in the franchiser’s brand. As mutually agreed, in addition to one-off franchise fees and deposits, each franchisee should pay royalty fees in advance before each royalty year begins, and if there is any overdue payment of royalty fees, penalties.
- The State Council Issues Policies on the Promotion of Imports and Exports On 22nd July 2015, the General Office of the State Council of the P.R.C. issued the Policies on the Promotion of Imports and Exports.
(For more details, please refer to your lawyer.)
Sourced from the official website of the National Government of the P.R.C.: http://www.gov.cn/zhengce/content/2015-07/24/content_10031.htm
- The Supreme People’s Court Issues New Judicial Interpretation, Conditionally Recognizing the Validity of Private Lending Between Enterprises
On 6th August 2015, the Supreme People’s Court issued the judicial interpretation on Private Lending, which will take into effect on 1st September 2015.
The new judicial interpretation specifies the conditions of the effectiveness of private lending agreements and notably validates private lending between private enterprises which meets the requirements thereof.
- The People’s Bank of China and the Other Nine Authorities Jointly Issue Policies on Boosting the Internet Finance Industry
On 18th July 2015, the People’s Bank of China, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Finance, the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, the Legislative Affairs Office, the China Banking Regulatory Commission, the China Securities Regulatory Commission, the China Insurance Regulatory Commission and the State Internet Information Office jointly issued the Policies on Boosting the Internet Finance Industry (“Policies”).
Such Policies provide a range of instructions on supporting and encouraging internet finance activities and specify duties of administration and control over major internet finance activities such as payment over the internet, network lending, equity crowd-funding, sale of funds via the internet, internet insurance, internet trust, doing and closing transactions through the internet.
(By Dr. Wenbao Qiao) For foreign companies doing business in China, dispute and litigation may sometimes be inevitable. Once a dispute cannot be resolved out of court, there is a long and rocky road to the final success, with several important points to be considered for planning and handling of litigation in China:
Documents and Evidence
The first step of each procedure is to collect and prepare all necessary documents and evidence. According to Chinese law, documents and evidence from another country (such as excerpts from the commercial register or powers of attorney) have to be first notarized in their country of origin and then certified by the Chinese Embassy or Consulate in the respective country. Only notarized and certified documents and evidence will be accepted by Chinese courts. While preparing the documents and evidence, attention should be paid to the timeline required for the notarization and certification. There are several important statutory deadlines shown below. Failure to meet these deadlines can lead to the loss of a case. Notarization and certification in Germany usually takes two to three weeks, which in turn may play a critical role for the time schedule of trial preparation.
(By You Yunting) Recently, Uber Shanghai carries out a marketing activity called Call for one hundred million by one button of Uber cooperated with 1qiaobao, an App owned by PINGAN INSURANCE GRP. According to the Uber’s official Weibo, users can use the Uber App to call the securicar provided by both Uber and 1qianbao, and anyone who is the winner of the caller can obtain all the financing earnings of one hundred million yuan, which is about ten thousand yuan. I think this activity has huge legal risks, therefore hereunder are the risks and its reason.
(By You Yunting) As we have already posted Judgment Abstract on NDRC’s Administrative Decision of Qualcomm Incorporated (Part 1) on April 17 2015, today we would like to introduce more.
III What’re the legitimate basis and the final decision?
Pursuant to Article 47 and Article 49 of the Anti-Monopoly Law, the NDRC made the following decisiosn against Qualcomm’s abuse of dominant market position in the SEPs markets and the baseband chip markets:
- Order Qualcomm a halt to illegal activities upon abuse of dominant market position as follows:
a Qualcomm shall provide patent lists to its licensees in China and not charge licensees for expired patents.
(By You Yunting) As from October 2013, the National Development and Reform Commission (the “NDRC”) starts the anti-monopoly probe into the world’s biggest cellphone chip maker, Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM) , and makes in-depth investigations and discussion with tens of cellphone manufacturers and baseband chip manufacturers at home and abroad. Recently, the NDRC determined that Qualcomm holds a dominant position in the markets of standard essential patents (“SEPs”) licensing in relation to CDMA, WCDMA and LTE wireless communication and the baseband chip market, and that Qualcomm be fined 6.088 billion yuan in the violation of the Anti-Monopoly Law. Today we will introduce the punishment decision and make comments.
(By You Yunting) A game guide, also known as game strategy guide, is an essential reference for players. Generally, a game guide may quote pictures and screens from the game itself. But if without authorization, it triggers questions whether this quotation causes copyright infringement. In the following, a similar case will be introduced.
Introduction to the Case:
Plaintiff: Shanghai Aurogon Information and Technology Co., Ltd (the “Aurogon”)
1st Defendant: China Zhongdian Media Co., Ltd (the “ZD Media”)
(By You Yunting) China’s two largest Taxi apps Didi Dache (“Didi”) and Kuaidi Dache (“Kuaidi”) confirmed merger on the Western Valentine’s Day, triggering the whole industry, which also lead to the suspicion of a monopoly. Afterwards, the Taxi apps Didi and Kuaidi responded this with much larger travel markets, and told that their merger does not lead to a monopoly, because mobile taxis only count a small proportion with lots of participators. As for whether their merger is accused of monopoly, there are hot discussions among legal professions. At present, third parties were tending to make anti-monopoly investigation from the Ministry of Commerce, and I am no exception. But after full consideration, I fell into confusion.