Distinguished Dean Philip McConnaughay, Associate Dean Mao Shaowei, Dear faculty and students, guests,
Good afternoon! I’m very glad to be invited to speak here at your commencement ceremony. Although I have not visited STL, I’ve frequently heard your story from Professor Thomas Man. I’m very proud of what you’ve accomplished, and can relate to what you’ve experienced. In the past years, a couple of Justices and Senior Judges had been invited to speak at the commencement ceremony of STL. I feel very much honored as well, as one of them!
Thirty one years ago, when sitting in the college auditorium for my own graduation ceremony, I was immersed in the blessings and warm wishes from our President and faculty, wandering in imaginations of how my life would resonate with China’s rule of law development.
I later realized that my career is about banging the gavel with the power of the rule of law and writing judgments with an honest heart. Endless case files, documents and investigations have taken up countless workdays and even weekends. But it can never outweigh the opportunities of being the trailblazer in a new era, the mission of writing another chapter for a new field, and the responsibility of making due contributions under a new role.
I now work at the Intellectual Property Court of the Supreme People’s Court of China, a newborn of the judicial reform.
Inaugurated on Jan 1, 2019, the court is quite young as a national level judicial organ which primarily hears cases on appeal over intellectual property rights. But in just three and a half years, over ten thousands of cases involving professional technologies and monopolies have been tried in the court, which evidences the unique role of the court in protecting technological innovation and safeguarding fair competition. Right now, the court doesn’t even have its own workplace, and some colleagues have to commute 100 kilometers every day. But everyone who works there are more than happy to work here. Every day in the morning and evening when I clock in and out , I’d stare at the motto of the court “Innovation, Perseverance, Prudence, Preeminence”. And from there, I want to talk about the spirit and pursuit of legal practitioners in my eyes.
First is innovation. Innovation is not only pioneering into the uncharted, but also breaking conventions. As legal practitioners, being innovative is not only to be flexible where intentionally left blank by the law and to fill up the holes of rules, but to break through the inertia of thinking within the system.
Technical facts identification in patent cases is a worldwide conundrum. And we have taken the lead in building a national court technical investigation talent pool and sharing mechanism so that judges can be less plagued by this problem. Without the “provisional execution” in German law, we advocate the use of “first-instance judgment + preliminary injunction” to achieve the same timely relief. Jurisdiction objection has become a tool for parties to delay litigation. We’ve vigorously promoted the electronic transfer of appeal files, so that the court of first instance that has rejected the jurisdiction objection can try uninterrupted trials.
Practice has proved that only by protecting innovation in an innovative way can we truly nurture the soil for innovation. The difficulty of innovation is not in the burst of ideas, but in concentrating on research and bravely moving forward. Because there will be no burst of ideas without strenuous research and bold exploration.
Second is perseverance. Perseverance is to work extremely hard for better results instead of doing nothing, to face instead of turning blind eyes to the problem and strive for perfection instead of settling for mediocracy. The diligence of a legal practitioner comes from his conscience and ingenuity. It is the consciousness of truly settling disputes, and it is the pursuit of seeking the best solution and providing the greatest relief.
Our judge on sick leave worked for 26 hours and made a reverse act preservation ruling to restore the link temporarily just so that the sellers on e-commerce platforms could participate in the Nov. 11 shopping gala. In order to find out the technical features, our acrophobic female judge stood in the bucket of the excavator under the scorching sun and was lifted into the air to observe the bridge joints. In a seemingly simple withdrawal of appeal application, we spotted the possibility of breaking the anti-monopoly law in a drug patent reverse payment agreement.
What makes perseverance challenging is the fact that you have to take small steps day by day and every day. The run-of-the-mill work and the ups and downs may wear you down. But it’ll never make less colorful the youthful time spent at school, or less abundant the mental nourishment you have received from your school. Nothing can stop you as long as you stay with your original heart and gain the strength from the inner part of yourself.
Third is prudence. Prudence is the ability to solve complicated problems. The prudence of legal practitioners is to bridge the gap between actual needs and legal solutions, to resolve the conflicts between logical deduction and experience-based judgement, and to find the balanced and fair explanation in plausible statements and cloaked facts.
For years there’s been no clearcut definition as to whether the implementation of method patents by multi-actor is direct or indirect infringement. So, we started to look for relief from another angle of product by solidifying method. Technical secret cases of large-scale equipment are dense in details and difficult to compare. So we boldly applied the rule of preponderance of evidence, and affirmed that the defendant used all technical secrets based on the presumption of complete sets of equipment and technical integrity.
Patent infringement cases are often accompanied by staggered and drastic patent invalidation procedures. The long cycle and high cost of defending their legal rights have long been criticized by rights holders. Just this week, we guided the parties in a case to voluntarily make compensation commitments for future interests in accordance with the preset situation, which not only balances the interests of both parties, but also speeds up the process.
The key of prudence doesn’t lie in flaring skills, but in the persistent pondering of arguments and research. You’ll find the way to prudence as long as you’re willing to see more, think openly, focus on the problem and try to get the results you want.
Four is preeminence. Preeminence is the pursuit of being first-class. The preeminence of legal practitioners is not only to be well acquainted with the national situation, but also to have the awareness and ability to participate in international governance, to uphold goodwill, and dare to fight, competing on an equal footing in cooperation, and deepening cooperation in competition.
Nearly 10% of the cases heard by the court are cases concerning foreign parties. We always uphold the principle of equal protection in accordance with the law. In the “Locked Intramedullary Nail” case, the ruling was changed to fully support the foreign rights holder’s claim for compensation of more than 20 million yuan because the infringer refused to submit the account books. More and more foreign enterprises choose to resolve intellectual property disputes in Chinese courts. China has increasingly become one of the preferred places for international intellectual property litigation.
We have also actively contributed Chinese wisdom to the international frontier issues of intellectual property rights. The judgement of standard-essential patent licensing disputes has attracted international attention, and a number of drug patent cases have been included in the United Nations case database. The establishment and operation of the court attracted enormous attention at home and abroad. The videos of the court trials have been viewed nearly 20,000 times per case on average. And the “Vanillin” case has been read 150 million times by just one Weibo hashtag.
The difficulty of preeminence lies not in being at the top everywhere, but in striving for it relentlessly. Most of the above explorations and cases are not ground-breaking. But we rely on the accumulation of such small endeavors to stimulate the creative enthusiasm and innovative vitality of the whole society. Perseverance brings us closer to excellence.
“创新、精进、智慧、卓越”，法庭将之译为“Innovation, Perseverance, Prudence, Preeminence”，简称IPPP，可以说，这是我们法庭人的精神与追求。同时，我想IPPP还可以有另外一种解读，就是Intellectual Property Protection Pioneer，这是我们对法庭的自我定位。期待同学们走出校门，开启创新、精进、智慧、卓越的人生与事业，盼望你们成为先锋的法律人，始终胸怀“国之大者”，将个人命运与国家命运紧紧相连，以奋斗之青春报效青春之国家。
Innovation, Perseverance, Prudence, Preeminence, IPPP in short, is the spirit and pursuit of the court. Meanwhile, I think IPPP can also be interpreted as Intellectual Property Protection Pioneer, which is how we see the court. It’s my earnest hope that, when you leave the campus, you will walk into a life and career of innovation, perseverance, prudence and preeminence and become leading legal practitioners, care about the development of our country and serve the country of youth with the youth of struggle.
Wish you walk steady for far-reaching! Thank you!