本 期 提 要HEADLINES
The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) recently announced that patent priority was extended to United Kingdom nationals as of 24 May 2000. The United Kingdom had originally granted priority to Taiwan nationals on 20 March 2000, but did not complete procedural requirements until 24 May 2000 by formally adding Taiwan to its list of nations that were eligible for patent priority. Based upon the principle of reciprocity, the IPO therefore determined the date for determining the grant of priority for patent applications filed by United Kingdom nationals to be 24 May 2000.
In 1992, Taiwan implemented a system of non-exclusivity of trademarks. Three years ago, the competent authority for trademarks drafted examination principles for non-exclusive marks. In the course of enforcing the applicable regulation governing non-exclusivity—Article 28 of the Enforcement Rules of the Trademark Law—questions have arisen regarding the situations when applicants may not declare non-exclusivity, and when they must declare non-exclusivity. Also left unresolved were the procedures required to declare non-exclusivity. In order to address these issues, the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has drafted examination guidelines to assist trademark examiners and applicants on matters regarding declaration of non-exclusive marks. The IPO referred to comparable regulations and trademark practice in the United States as well as Taiwan's particular experience when drafting the examination guidelines. The IPO held a public hearing on 24 August 2000 to gather comments on the draft guidelines.
The principle contents of the guidelines are the following:
i. Purpose of the non-exclusive system;
ii. Conditions when non-exclusivity may not be declared;
iii. Conditions when marks which are deemed as having distinctiveness under Article 5-2 of the Trademark Law are not required to declare non-exclusivity; and
iv. Conditions when unitary marks
are not required to declare non-exclusivity. "Unitary marks" means
trademark designs that combine words that are descriptive or non-distinctive
with other words, but the designs taken as a whole are distinctive and
cannot be separated into individual images.
Administrative Measures and Enforcement
The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and the National Police Administration (NPA) recently adopted two measures aimed at combating counterfeiting in Taiwan. The measures are intended to protect the rights of intellectual property owners and prevent harm to the international image of the country that results from counterfeiting. The two measures are as follows:
a. The NPA's Second Police Group formed specialized units that began assisting with intellectual property infringement cases on 1 September 2000.
b. The NPA instructed local police authorities to form specialized units by 1 September 2000 to carry out raids twice per month on retail outlets, night markets, and underground factories selling or producing pirated goods.
In order to deal a large blow to
illegal industries, the NPA required each local police authority on 8, 9,
and 10 September 2000 to carry out raids against firms suspected of
infringing intellectual property rights. A total of 162 raids were
conducted, resulting in the seizure of pirated laser disks, pirated
videotapes, and counterfeit leather products worth a total of
In July 2000, the Government Information Office (GIO) and local government agencies jointly made 90 investigations of MTV parlors. (Sixty-three of these investigations were made after 8 p.m.) They also made 200 investigations of video rental shops and 26 investigations of other business establishments. These investigations resulted in the seizure of 2,264 illegal videotapes, 354 illegal laser disks, and 18 videotapes that had exceeded their dates of authorization. One case was referred to a district court on suspicion of violating rights and public morals. Eighteen cases were subject to administrative sanctions under the Broadcasting and Television Law.
In addition, three cases were
referred by the Foundation for the Protection of Film and Video Works and
the Film Industry Anti-Piracy Working Committee to prosecutors on suspicion
of copyright infringement on the basis of information supplied by the GIO.
In July 2000, the Government Information Office (GIO) and local government agencies jointly investigated 180 cable TV operators. (Fifty-three of these investigations were made after 8 p.m.) The investigations included 53 investigations of primary broadcast facilities, of which two were suspected of violating advertising regulations, one was suspected of violating subscription fee regulations, and two were suspected of infringing rights. The 180 investigations also included 127 investigations of secondary broadcast facilities, of which 20 were suspected of violating advertising regulations.
The GIO also handled 314 cases of
consumer complaints alleging violations by cable TV operators in July 2000.
This total included 21 programming complaints, 42 advertising complaints, 69
subscription fee cases, and 182 right protection cases.
According to statistics released by the Anti-Counterfeiting Committee (ACC) of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the ACC in July 2000 investigated 32 new trademark and place-of-origin cases involving the export of goods. During this month, 64 cases were handled by the ACC internally and 59 were referred to the Board of Foreign Trade for administrative action. In addition, of the counterfeit cases that were brought to the attention of the ACC by private companies, 19 were handled by the ACC and 12 were referred to other administrative agencies.
Working in close cooperation with
prosecutors, police, and investigators, the ACC coordinated raids in eight
IPR infringement cases during July 2000. The ACC also assisted with 25
counterfeit trademark raids. The raids resulted in the seizure of
counterfeit goods worth NT$16,045,886. The ACC also assisted the China
External Trade Development Council to verify that products from Taiwan
companies selected for an overseas exhibition did not infringe intellectual
property rights. The ACC also participated in one meeting related to
counterfeit raids and intellectual property during July 2000.
In July 2000, the National Police
Administration handled IPR-related investigations resulting in the referral
of 307 cases involving 345 defendants to district court prosecutors on
suspicion of infringement. Of these 307 cases, 57 defendants in 52 cases
were suspected of trademark infringement, 14 defendants in 10 cases were
suspected of patent infringement, and 274 defendants in 245 cases were
suspected of copyright infringement. Twenty-two defendants in 19 cases were
suspected of infringing foreign-owned intellectual property, of which 6
defendants (6 cases) involved U.S.-owned intellectual property. The street
value of counterfeit products seized during the investigations was estimated
to be NT$6,108,330.
According to statistics released by the Ministry of Justice, of 198 defendants in copyright, trademark, and patent infringement cases in July 2000, 98 persons were sentenced to jail terms, received detention, or were fined. Of the defendants sentenced to jail terms, 66 persons were sentenced to less than six months. Of these 66 persons, 6 were convicted of infringing U.S.-owned intellectual property. Seven persons were sentenced to no less than six months but no more than one year. Fourteen persons were sentenced to no less than one year but no more than two years. Seven persons received detention.