By Xianjie Ding and Di Yao King & Wood’s IP Legal Group
New developments in e-commerce regulation bring the issue of intellectual property infringement and the liability of e-commerce operators to light. A landmark case in China removed the defence of the "Safe Harbor Principle" for the first time, and should serve as an admonition to online platforms
The rise of e-commerce in China
In 2011, the e-commerce business in China underwent major changes. After significant amounts of private equity (PE) investments and many successful initial public offerings (IPOs) on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) or NASDAQ, e-commerce operators have increased resources to develop their business strategies. They are no long playing a neutral role by providing a merely technical and automatic processing of the data (for example, merely providing space for a blog, etc.) but marketing aggressively as a real internet value-added service provider (for example, providing services in building up or optimising a member’s own website, etc.). This change in role will lead to great legal challenges in the future in the area of trade mark infringements committed on an e-commerce operator’s platform. This article will introduce two high-profile online trade mark infringement cases in both the EU and China, and offer an analysis of the implications on the development of e-commerce.