China to Implement its First Civil Code in 2021, 52 Articles IP-Related  

On 28 May 2020, the Civil Code of the People's Republic of China was approved by the third session of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC). The Civil Code, to be effective on 1 January 2021, is the first-ever code under the current Chinese legal framework. It comprises 1,260 articles, with 52 intellectual property (IP)-related articles spreading in the General Provisions section and six special law sections on property, contract, personality rights, marriage, succession, and tort respectively.

The Civil Code stipulates the eligible subject matters of IP in China, notably recognising trade secrets as an IP subject matter in China, and clearly provides for punitive damages as the compensatory mechanism for serious, intentional infringement of rights in IP, covering the rights in works, inventions, utility models, industrial designs, trademarks, geographical indications, trade secrets, layout designs of integrated circuits, and new plant species.

Other provisions in the Civil Code that are related to civil rights in IP mainly concern pledging of IP as property rights, the ownership of IP in assets to be sold under a sales contract, and the relationship between the parties of technology contracts regarding their rights and obligations in such aspects as technological development, transfer, licensing, consulting, and provision of services.