International Process Service: Serving in China and Intellectual Property Matters

Serving in China

International process of service is a notoriously complex endeavor, one made even more complicated by the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic throughout the world.

International process service is especially difficult in China, where adaptations to an already lengthy procedure mean it may take up to 24 months to successfully deliver legal documentation. 

This is especially concerning to plaintiffs pursuing an Intellectual Property case since any delay can mean a significant loss of both current and future profits. 

A History of International Process Service in China

China is a member of the Hague Service Convention, which maintains its own set of regulations regarding process of service. Under these guidelines, each state must establish a central authority equipped to receive all incoming requests for service.

After the central authority receives documentation for delivery, it arranges for process of service through the local court system. Once delivery is complete, a certificate of service is sent back to the judicial officer who made the request. 

This process can take anywhere from two to six months under ideal circumstances, and considerably longer in countries with little motivation to deliver the documentation provided by the state’s central authority.

In an intellectual property dispute, this process often benefits the defendant, who may deliberately establish their business in a country like China, which is unlikely to deliver a subpoena from a foreign plaintiff in a timely manner. 

Covid-19’s Impact on Process of Service

China’s response to Covid-19 further complicates process of service since the state is no longer accepting delivery through the usual methods. The applicant must now submit all documents through an online portal. Once the documents are reviewed and approved, the governing body will request payment. The process server will then upload a copy of the wire transfer.

The Central Authority will notify the applicant once the submitted request and supporting documents are approved. Once all required protocols are satisfied, the Central Authority will forward the Request as well as supporting documents to the Supreme People’s Court for further processing which will take several months to complete.

We were privy to the information that the Chinese Central Authority had been severely backlogged with the processing of requests prior to the pandemic. Many experts indicate that it may even take two years to complete a successful process of service. 

The Case for International Process Service

With stakes as high as those associated with international intellectual property disputes, an experienced process server is essential. There are multiple treaties and conventions outside the Hague Convention governing countries throughout the world, and an experienced international server will be familiar with the intricacies of each treaty and regulating organization.

Additionally, while some countries might participate in the Hague Convention or Inter-American Service Convention, they often maintain individual regulations regarding issues like translation and acceptable alternative delivery methods, all of which must be considered as well. 

Considering the time and cost associated with these procedures, an experienced international process server is often the only way to guarantee a successful delivery. DGR Legal is proud to have successfully completed process of service in nearly every country and in countless languages.

We are the experts in navigating complex legal systems around the world, and we’re ready to help you ensure your proceedings move forward as accurately and efficiently as possible. Contact us today to get started, or use our In-Depth Guide to learn more. 

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