Only a few days after the launch of SINOTALKS.COM, Dr. Mei Gechlik began publishing a biweekly newsletter titled SINOTALKS.COM In Brief. The goal for this newsletter is to demystify Chinese law and policy so that readers will be able to craft evidence-based strategies for their China-related issues.
Image: Heru Purwanto, Pomelo On The Tree, Publicdomainpictures.net
Guiding Case No. 160 addresses a fundamental issue: when rights to a new plant variety are granted, what falls within the scope of protection? According to China’s legislation, propagation materials of the plant for which variety rights have been granted are clearly protected. Yet, what are “propagation materials”? Unfortunately, no definition can be found in China’s legislation. Guiding Case No. 160 fills the legal gap by setting the criteria for such determination.
Image: George Hodan, Agriculture, Publicdomainpictures.net
The Supreme People’s Court of China released Guiding Case Nos. 92, 100, and 160 to clarify fundamental issues related to the protection of rights to new plant varieties that were left unanswered by the country’s legislation and judicial interpretations. Yet, have these three Guiding Cases essentially lost their significance, considering that their guiding principles, as analyzed in this article, have already been incorporated into the Supreme People’s Court’s latest judicial interpretation related to new plant varieties? Dr. Mei Gechlik explains why the answer is negative and discusses related implications.
Image: Lilla Frerichs, Indian Corn 1, Publicdomainpictures.net
Before the release of Guiding Case No. 100, the Supreme People’s Court of China released Guiding Case No. 92 to establish this principle: in a case involving infringement of rights to a new plant variety, when the related DNA fingerprinting test result cannot provide a clear answer, the allegedly infringing party, i.e., the defendant, has the burden to prove that the allegedly infringing plant is different from the plant for which variety rights have been granted. Guiding Case No. 100 shows what the defendant can do to meet this burden of proof.
Image: Andrew Schmidt, Corn On The Cob, Publicdomainpictures.net
Guiding Case No. 92 provides guidance on an important issue frequently encountered in cases involving infringement of rights to new plant varieties: how to determine whether two plants are of the same variety, when the related DNA fingerprinting test result cannot provide a clear answer. According to this Guiding Case, when this happens, the allegedly infringing party, i.e., the defendant, has the burden to prove that the allegedly infringing plant is different from the plant for which variety rights have been granted. How did the court justify the shifting of the burden to the defendant?