Tuesday, June 10, 2008, 6/10/2008 10:49:00 AM

Taiwan Signals It Is Starting to Take Trade Secrets Seriously

By Todd
The attached link contains an interview with Dr. Chii-Ming Yiin, Taiwan's Minister of Economic Affairs. It proves an interesting read, but we were most interested in the question and answer relating to the protection of intellectual property rights (IPR), including trade secrets, in that country. We've pasted, and even bolded, the relevant dialogue below:

Q: Taiwan recently launched an Intellectual Property (IP) Court to help further protect intellectual property rights in Taiwan. Do you think this will encourage more high-tech firms to invest in Taiwan? What other roles is the government taking to protect IP and increase investment from foreign high-tech firms in Taiwan?

A: Taiwan is thoroughly committed to IPR protection, not only as part of our obligation to the international community but also as a vital element in our industrial upgrade and national competitiveness. As such, building a sound environment for IPR protection has always been one of our key national policies.

Taiwan will inaugurate an IP Court on July 1, 2008. All of the legal and regulatory groundwork for the court has been completed, and eight outstanding judges with extensive background and experience in IPR issues have been selected to head the Court. The Intellectual Property Office will lend the expertise of nine technical examiners to assist the judges in hearing cases involving technical disputes. This arrangement will remove the obstacle we faced in the past of judges lacking professional IPR knowledge.

In recent years, Taiwan's IPR regulations have been extensively amended to bring them into line with international standards. As a result, we are receiving a growing number of patent applications from foreign companies. In 2007 alone, foreign companies accounted for 32,239 of the 81,834 patent applications filed. Each year Taiwan grants about 15,000 patent rights to foreign applicants. However, the increase in IPR filings has also resulted in an increase in IPR litigation. Figures from the Judicial Yuan indicate that the number of IPR cases heard at district courts in Taiwan increased from 3,500 in 2004 to 4,500 in 2006. With the establishment of the IP Court, future IPR litigation will be handled by a highly professional institution that fully regulates the qualifications of judges, litigation procedures, presentation of evidence, and trade secrets protection. IP disputes therefore can be effectively and efficiently resolved, and this will dramatically enhance IPR protection in Taiwan. In this environment, local enterprises will be more willing to invest resources in R&D, and foreign firms, especially in the high-tech industry, will have more faith in investing in Taiwan.

In addition to judicial reform, the Executive Yuan has approved an IPR Action Plan, under which different government agencies can meet periodically to coordinate and review the implementation of IPR protection measures. To further strengthen Taiwan's IPR protection environment, prosecutors, police authorities, and the Joint Optical Disk Enforcement Taskforce (JODE) coordinate their efforts to step up infringement inspections. In 2003, Taiwan formed the IPR Police, which is manned by 200 officers that deal specifically with inspections related to IPR infringement. Through these various initiatives, Taiwan has made tremendous progress in IPR protection. This progress is widely recognized and acknowledged by rights holder groups at home and abroad.

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