China has been stepping up its fight against intellectual property right (IPR) infringement, according to the country's top procuratorate at a press conference Thursday.

Procuratorates across China approved the arrest of 5,627 suspects involved in 3,306 IPR infringement cases in 2018, a year-on-year increase of 31.7 percent, according to the Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP).

A total of 8,325 suspects involved in 4,458 such cases were prosecuted last year, 22.3 percent more than in 2017.

"IPR infringement severely harms society," Liu Taizong, a prosecutor with the SPP, said at the press conference, adding that acts such as counterfeiting, pirating and information stealing have a huge negative impact on the market and impede the country's innovation.

In 2018, procuratorates approved the arrest of 5,266 people suspected of trademark infringement in 3,100 cases and charged 7,741 people involved in 4,136 such cases.

A total of 304 people were charged for copyright infringement last year, while 56 people were prosecuted for infringing trade secrets.

"China needs to strengthen IPR protection and crackdown on IPR infringement to serve high-quality economic development, stimulate innovation and further promote the reform and opening-up and its integration into economic globalization," said Zheng Xinjian, an SPP prosecutor.

Handling IPR infringement cases has been increasingly difficult because production, logistics and sales are separate and victims are hard to identify, Zheng said.

"Criminals keep updating their means by deceiving dealers and consumers with fake permits, packages, batch numbers or customs certificates."

Zheng pointed out that trademark infringement accounts for over 90 percent of IPR infringement cases, covering tobacco, alcohol, food, garments, cosmetics and digital products.

With the rapid development of Internet technology comes a surge in IPR infringements, Zheng said.

More and more commodities with counterfeit trademarks and works that infringe copyright are spreading online. IPR infringements have also been rife in online literature, music, film, video, games, cartoons and software.

Online crimes are elusive and span many regions, while criminals are hard to identify and evidence easily destroyed.

Prosecutors have intensified efforts to protect the IPR of online works, Liu said, adding that prosecutors now use more technological means to collect evidence as well as improve the quality and effectiveness of investigation in major and complex cases.

Procuratorates have been strengthening the training of professionals for IPR infringement cases and enhancing cooperation with public security, administrative and law enforcement authorities in improving mechanisms of evidence reporting, evidence transfer, technique sharing and case coordination.