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With the rapid development of the digital economy, data has become an important factor of production, which is leading to an increase in intellectual property cases involving data applications among different platforms.
Judges specializing in IP-related disputes said these new cases not only involve unfair competition among platforms but also data security and personal information protection.
The Beijing Intellectual Property Court received a total of 722 data-related cases between January 2019 and the end of June, with 89 percent of them being filed in 2021 and 2022, according to Xie Zhenke, chief judge of the No 3 Tribunal at the IP court in the capital.
"The rapid growth of technologies, including artificial intelligence and algorithms, is welcomed, as it provides more channels and opportunities for market entities to acquire and apply data. But clarifying whether these acquisitions and applications are legal is a challenge for judges," Xie said on Tuesday, ahead of the World Intellectual Property Day, which falls on Wednesday.
To raise awareness about such cases, the Beijing IP court released information on Sunday about 10 influential data-related lawsuits involving digital enterprises from home and abroad, showing how important it is for judges and the public to find the balance between data protection and data utilization.
The court identified a company involved in unfair competition after finding that it had used more than 50,000 videos, personal information about 10,000-plus users and 127 comments from Douyin, a popular Chinese short-video platform, without permission.
Regarding the short videos and information about users as a "whole data resource", the court said the platform could be given the data rights, and ordered the company to pay 5 million yuan ($721,990) to Douyin to help make up for financial losses.
In another case, an enterprise was required to pay about 5.28 million yuan to Sina Weibo for illegally acquiring, storing and displaying data of the microblogging service that was not open to the public.
In addition to identifying the behavior of the enterprise as unfair competition, Xie said that obtaining data in this manner might breach the privacy of internet users.
"With the increasing number of data transactions, especially cross-border ones, finding a balance among data development, personal information protection and national security is also a challenge for the judiciary," she said, adding that it is essential to maintain fair competition and guide market entities to be honest in their operations.
Zhang Xiaojin, chief judge of the No 3 Civil Tribunal at the Beijing High People's Court, noted that courts across the capital have strengthened research on data-related cases in order to boost data security while promoting the healthy growth of the digital industry.
"The field of data is a new industry and the related cases are also new, emerging issues," Zhang said. "Resolving these disputes through court verdicts is currently a challenge for the judiciary. The Beijing court is exploring and studying the cases, striving to protect data while promoting the healthy development of the industry."
Source: China Daily