Case Analysis: Legal Risks in Franchise Business

(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.

  1. 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.

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First China Trade Secret Litigation Injunction Ends in Favor of Eli Lily and Company

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(By You Yunting) We have introduced that Shanghai court issued the first trade secret litigation injunction in China pursuant to the new Civil Procedure Law. Recent, Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court made a judgment in favor of U.S. drug maker Eli Lily and Company and Eli Lily (China), determining that the defendant must cease infringing the trade secret of the plaintiff. In today’s post, we will introduce the abstract the judgment following with our comments.

Introduction to the Case:

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Intellectual Property Analysis on the Dilemma of Yunnan Baiyao

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(By You Yunting)Abstract: The Yunnan Baiyao Group Co., Ltd had used its good historical reputation, its customer’s curiosity about its ingredients and the protection afforded to a state-secret recipe to make large profits. However, with the proliferation of awareness of an individual’s rights and the gradual strengthening of democratic consciousness, its enterprise institutions and culture are eroding consumer confidence in the brand and ruining its business reputation in the eyes of consumers.

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Regulations against Intellectual Property Malicious Litigation in China

    (By You Yunting) Malicious litigation refers to instituting a lawsuit through fictional facts and falsified evidences for the purpose of receiving unlawful benefits. In today’s post, we will introduce some provisions about malicious litigation in intellectual property laws and civil procedure law in China.

    I. Provisions on wrongful litigation injunction can be applied into malicious litigation.

    In litigations concerning patent, trademark and copyright, the right holder always applies for such litigation injunctions as termination of infringement, evidence preservation and property preservation. Where the court approved the application, if the litigation is proved to be malicious, the respondent may require the applicant to compensate for such losses. Article 13 of the Several Provisions of the Supreme People’s Court on the Issues Concerning the Application of Law to Terminating Infringement upon Patent Prior to Litigation stipulates that:

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NOVARTIS Awarded Injunctive Relief in Trade Secret Action in China

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(By You Yunting) According to reports, in February 2014, Shanghai No.1 Intermediate People’s Court approved plaintiff NOVARTIS’s application requesting the court to order an injunction ruling so as to protect its legal rights and interests in a trade secret litigation.

According to reports, NOVARTIS claimed that the defendant should not disclosure, use or allow another party to use the 879 documents on its trade secret lists that shall keep secret.

For intellectual property infringement, China’s supreme People’s Court may also set a temporary injunction on judicial interpretations of the Patent Law, Trademark Law and Copyright Law; we have previously provided posts discussing related systems in other areas of intellectual property law, such as patent preliminary injunctioncopyright injunction and litigation injunction. With regard to trade secrets, however, no particular injunction is set on judicial interpretations of the Anti Fair Competition Law.

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The Impact of Criminal Inducements and Controlled Deliveries on the Conviction of Business Secret Infringement Offences

(By Wu Pengbin)  1. Introduction

I was the defense counsel of this case, in which the defendant was induced to conduct an illicit transaction and involved in a controlled delivery. The case facts are summarized as follows:

The defendant, Mr. Zheng resigned from his employment as an engineer from the informant, Sany Heavy Industry Co., Ltd. (referred to as ‘SANY’ hereafter) two years ago before the crime was committed. As charged by the People’s Procuratorate of Fengxian District, Mr. Zheng sold SANY’s technical drawings he illicitly obtained to ‘Mr. Zhou’, who paid in cash for the sale (at the price of RMB 700,000), and was caught red-handed by the police of Fengxian Public Security Bureau. The drawings sold by Mr. Zheng was recognized to be business confidential and worth about RMB 800,000.

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Trade Secret Litigation Injunction Rulings in China

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(By You Yunting) According to media reports (note: the link is in Chinese), Eli Lilly and Company and Eli Lilly (China) sued an employee named Huang in the Shanghai No.1 Intermediate People’s Court. That court recently issued the first trade secret litigation injunction in China’s history, and ruled a litigation preservation that prohibited Huang from disclosing, using, or allowing any third party to use 21 documents that were protected as trade secrets by the plaintiff.

Inductions to the Case:

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Could User Information Be Considered Trade Secret in China?

Abstract: trade secret must have three basic features: confidentiality, practicability, and security. Therefore, whether user information in a website could be considered as trade secret or not, it shall also be judged based on these three basic features.

(By Luo Yanjie) User information is very important to a website daily operation. To judge it from the legal protection perspective, it is generally protected as a trade secret. The case introduced in this article is a typical dispute on whether the user information could be considered a trade secret, and thereby could infringement be decided.

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Litigation in China: A Long and Rocky Road

(By Dr. Wenbao Qiao) For foreign companies doing business in China, disputes 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 the 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 first be 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 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 scheduling of time in preparation for trial.

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Can Employees’ Nondisclosure Warranty Letter Be A Confidential Measure in China?

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(By Albert Chen) According to the Anti Unfair Competition Law, one of the conditions required for something to constitute a trade secret is whether sufficient measures have been taken for such information to remain confidential. In practice, apart from an NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement), other confidential articles that explicitly indicate the inclusion of remuneration for confidentiality in an employee’s pay, as well as written warranties issued by an employee can both be considered confidential measures in law sufficient to properly maintain a trade secret.

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How to Infer the Trade Secret Disclosure by Original Staffs in China?

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(By Albert Chen) How to demonstrate one’s original employee has presented the trade secret gained during his/her service to the new employer, who thereafter makes benefit of it? As no direct evidences are available, in the current judicial practices, the principle of “similarity, contactable and excluding lawful origin” has been adopted for the case judging.

Case Summary:

Zhao once had her employment with Jiashan Shengguang Electronics Co., Ltd. (the “Company S”) from February 20th 2002 to March 19th 2006, and was in charge of the sales of the company. During her service there, Zhao, as the representative of Company S, concluded several transactions on vehicles lighting with Mexican DDB Company.

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Should Chinese Enterprise Employees Who Have Not Signed An NDA Still Have A Duty to Not Disclose?

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(By Albert Chen) In practice, we have seen numerous companies not signing any NDA or confidential clauses in employment contracts with their staff. But even so, taking into consideration confidentiality measures taken by a company, like making requirements for the handling of client information, and taking into consideration the confidential content of said information, one could easily conclude most companies intend to maintain nondisclosure of confidential information, and as a corollary staff and employees also maintain these efforts at nondisclosure.

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What Information Could Be Considered as Trade Secret in Tech Product Transaction in China?

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(By Albert Chen) The tech product transaction involves the information of technology and business. Among such information, to judge which part could be considered as trademark secret, it shall be based upon Article 10 of the Anti Unfair Competition Law, which regulates that to determine the trade secret, the court shall evaluate “whether it is known to the public”, “benefiting”, “practicability” and “confidentiality”.

Case Summary

In 1998, Shanghai Zhenxing Aluminum Co., Ltd. (the “Zhengxing Company”) developed a manufacturing technology, which the company used to produce articles. This technology created by Zhenxing set the standard for the production of the article. Shanghai Huikai Aluminum Co., Ltd. (the “Huikai Company”) was founded on September 10th 2003, and afterwards carried out the business in the same product manufacturing as Zhenxing. As investigated, among the 70 clients of Huikai, 68 once transacted with Zhenxing. For these clients, most products they purchased from Huikaiu were almost the same as those they bought from Zhenxing. Furthermore, Qin and Pan, who are now working in Huikai, are former employees of Zhenxing. During their employment with Zhenxing, the company signed confidential article in the labor contract and also an independent confidential agreement.

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Could User Information Be Considered Trade Secret in China?

Abstract: trade secret must have three basic features: confidentiality, practicability, and security. Therefore, whether user information in a website could be considered as trade secret or not, it shall also be judged based on these three basic features.

(By Luo Yanjie) To a website, its’ user information is very important to its daily operation. To judge it from the legal protection perspective, it is generally protected as a trade secret. The case introduced in this article is a typical dispute on whether the user information could be considered a trade secret, and thereby could infringement be decided.

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The Shanghai Branch of CIETAC Changed Its Name

Today, we noticed an announcement published on the website of the Shanghai Branch of the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission stating that it has changed its name to the Shanghai International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (the “Shanghai Commission”). At the same time, it will begin to use the name of Shanghai International Arbitration Center. Additionally, starting on May 1, 2013, the Shanghai Commission will begin using new Arbitration Rules and a new arbitrator name list.

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