(By Wang Ting and You Yunting)The limited liability of the shareholders means that the liability of the shareholder to the company are limited to its capital contribution, and the independent personality of corporation means that the Company shall fulfill its external liabilities by all of its properties. Therefore, the shareholders usually do not take personal responsibility in IPR infringement cases even when the long-term business of the company is infringement of the intellectual property rights (“IPR”) in most cases. However, today we will introduce a recent case, in which the shareholders were determined to take such joint liabilities for the IPR infringements.
(By Yu Zhiyuan) Directors’ liability in China is an attractive matter to foreigners who act or intend to act as directors in China. Today, we would like to introduce directors’ liability in China to the below questions.
1. What are the key areas of liability that directors in China need to be aware of?
Directors shall abide by laws, administrative regulations and articles of association of the company and shall have the fiduciary and diligent duties to the company.
Directors may not abuse their authorities by accepting bribes or generating other illegal income, and may not convert company property.
(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) Abstract: The Foreign Investment Law (Draft for Comments) has shifted the standard of a company based upon the actual controller, instead of the shareholder of the company, and regulated that the domestic company must not engage in any industries where operation by foreign investors is prohibited. In case the Draft becomes law, it will cut off the survival basis of VIE structure, so that the VIE company controlled by foreign investors cannot be operated, that the overseas listed company controlled through the VIE structure by Chinese will lose its survival basis of oversea listing, and that the startup companies of VIE structure controlled by Chinese will be forced to abandon the VIE structure.
(By Wang Ting and You Yunting) In enterprise name registration, if an enterprise changed its enterprise name at once, generally the new enterprise name is under protection. This means, the enterprise is no longer entitled to the rights and interests of its prior enterprise name. Such being the case, does another’s registration on the prior enterprise name cause its prior rights, or violate the Article 32 of the Trademark Law on the stipulation that the trademark application shall not infringe upon another party’s prior existing rights? Is the enterprise with a new enterprise name entitled to the prior right for its prior rights? In today’s post, with regard to those questions, the Trademark Office, the Trademark Review and Adjudication Board, Beijing No.1 Intermediate People’s Court and Beijing Higher Peoples Court were divided in their attitude.
(By Wang Qiurui) Selfishness is nature of human beings and difficult to get rid of, out of which a problem arises that employees and even high-level managerial staff of a company care much more about their own interest than the company’s rise and fall when dealing with managerial issues. Adam Smith raised a question related to such problem in his masterpiece the Wealth of Nations, known as ‘Smith’s Difficult Question’.
Many past and living Chinese and foreign entrepreneurs have turned to equity to find a way of thinking a solution to overcome such weakness of human beings. However, being governed by the current Company Law of P.R.China, settlement of a case in such a way would give rise to many legal issues. It should be more advisable for Chinese entrepreneurs to create and apply to their businesses a phantom equity system.
(By You Yunting) Today we would like to introduce a typical case concerning the situation where a Chinese citizen tries to form a joint venture with a foreign individual. Pursuant to Chinese laws and regulations, foreign companies, enterprises, other commercial organizations and individuals (the “foreign investors”) can only form joint ventures with Chinese companies, enterprises and other commercial organizations, rather than with Chinese citizens. For these reasons, the court determined that the contract agreed upon by the Chinese citizens and foreign investors was invalid and each party should undertake the expenses and costs of establishment individually.
(By You Yunting) In the end of 2013, China issued a revised Corporate Law updating the provisions about the contributed capital, as discussed in our previous post the Amendment to the Corporate Law. Today we will discuss the legal liabilities of promoters and shareholders with regards to the required contributed capital being surreptitiously withdrawn.
Assumption of liability
Pursuant to the updated Corporate Law, any shareholder who fails to make full payment of the capital contributions at the establishment of the company shall be jointly and severally liable for refunding the paid-in capital – in accordance with the amount of registered capital. As such, it is when the company is unable to pay its debts that the shareholders shall assume the liability of surreptitiously withdrawing the contributed capital.
(By You Yunting and Wang Ting) Abstract: Generally, before registration, an enterprise never receives corresponding protection for its enterprise name. However, in relation to its pre-approved enterprise name before registration, the pre-approved enterprise name shall be provided appropriate protection.
Today, we will introduce a typical case touching upon this issue, specifically, the process of approving an enterprise name under the establishment of a foreign-invested company. In this case, Google successfully defended itself against a Chinese enterprise, and finally won rights in the Chinese transliteration of its name, written in Chinese as“谷歌” and pronounced “gu-ge”.
(By Gong Lier) The China (Shanghai) pilot free trade zone (hereafter called ‘the free trade zone’) was officially launched in Waigaoqiao, Shanghai on 29th Sept. 2013. Attention should be paid to the news that the, i.e., the ‘Negative List’, of the free trade zone was issued at midnight on the same day, on which the five Shanghai municipal governmental rules were also implemented one after another, including the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone Administrative Rules (No.7 municipal government’s order) (hereafter called ‘the Free Trade Zone Administrative Rules’), the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone Foreign Investors’ Funded Projects Filing Rules (H.F.F.(2013) No.71) (hereafter called ‘the Foreign Investors’ Funded Projects Filing Rules’), the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone Overseas Investment Projects Filing Rules (H.F.F.(2013) No.72) (hereafter called ‘the Overseas Projects Filing Rules’), the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone Foreign Investors’ Funded Enterprises Filing Rules (H.F.F.(2013) No.73) (hereafter called ‘the Foreign Investors’ Funded Enterprises Filing Rules’), and the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone Overseas Invested and Incorporated Enterprises Filing Rules (H.F.F.(2013) No.74) (hereafter called ‘the Overseas Invested and Incorporated Enterprises Filing Rules’).
(By Bai Lituan) On August 30, 2013, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress enacted the Decision of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on Authorizing the State Council to Temporarily.
Adjust the Administrative Examination and Approval of Relevant Laws in China (Shanghai) Free Trade Zone (the “DESIVISION”). The DESIVISION authorizes the State Council to temporarily adjust about 11 administration examinations and approval of the establishment and merger of foreign-capital enterprises including the wholly foreign-owned enterprises, Sino-foreign cooperative joint venture and Sino-foreign equity joint ventures in the Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone (the “FTZ”). Earlier reports once said that it would temporarily suspend the implementation of the Law on Wholly Foreign-Owned Enterprises, the Law on Sino-Foreign Cooperative Joint Ventures and the Law on Sino-Foreign Equity Joint Ventures in the FTZ. In effect, those three laws involve the establishment, business structure, foreign exchange management, labor and personnel, finance and accounting, dissolution and liquidation, etc. The DESIVION of the National People’s Congress just temporarily suspends 11 administration approvals and changes them into filling administration. The Law on Wholly Foreign-Owned Enterprises, the Law on Sino-Foreign Cooperative Joint Ventures and the Law on Sino-Foreign Equity Joint Ventures will still be enforced in the FTZ and be temporarily adjusted.
(By Yu Zhiyuan and Bai Lituan) In the capital market, agency institutions’ participation greatly reduces the degree of information asymmetry of market subjects, and plays a significant role in the capital market; thus, the agency institutions and their professionals are named by the industry as the “gatekeepers” of the capital market. Ever since the Enron Corporation scandal became public and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOA) was published, in order to better protect the interests of public investors, all countries are attempting to apply new approaches to security supervision. Thus far, enhancing the gatekeepers’ obligations is one of the ways to realize investor protection. Recently, fraudulent securities issuances and severe distortions of information disclosure are occurring frequently in China’s capital market, and this has a direct causal relationship with the gatekeepers’ mechanism failure.
(By Ding Jinkun) Recently, Glaxo SmithKline, UCB and many foreign pharmaceutical giants are being investigated for their involvement in economic crimes. The entire pharmaceutical industry is involved into this investigation, stated-owned pharmaceutical firms included. Thus, it can be seen that the Chinese medical market has developed some deformities. Among the resulting crimes, some specific acts include unlawfully raising the price of medicine and unreasonably requiring consumers, particular patients, to pay “perks” for the lawbreakers in the form of small fees.
Comments on a Shareholder’s Qualification Case Arising out of Technology Investments
(Steven Wang) Recently, the author has represented parties in a shareholder’s lawsuit, with the dispute centering on IPR investment. The court has already heard the case. The property value involved in the lawsuit totaled as high as RMB 300 million Yuan, and the laws applied in its hearing involved IPR law, contract law, and corporate law. The focus of the dispute referred to the patent, exclusive technology, contribution, revocation of shareholder qualification and the application of law when a number of conflicts arise among these different areas of the law. These conflicts have caused a lot of discussion regarding these legal conflicts, and several conclusions have been reached regarding issues presented in the case.
Analysis on the HF Fund’s lawsuits against Gansu Shiheng and Hong Kong Dia
(By Bai Lituan & Zhang Qianlin) In December 2012, HF Fund Management Co., Ltd. (the “HFF”) filed a lawsuit against Gansu Shiheng Nonferrous Metals Co., Ltd (the “GSNM”), and after being heard by the Supreme People’s Court, the Court stated that the valuation adjustment Mechanism (VAM) would be considered partially valid. This particular case has been seen ups and downs, and now that it has finally been heard, we would like to share our opinions on it within a framework of legal analysis, and hope that it will help clarify any issues presented in the case and thus help to reduce the risks investors typically face.