Executive Yuan Approves Draft Optical Media
The Executive Yuan on 25 April 2001 approved the draft Optical Media Management Law. The law, which requires approval by the Legislative Yuan, is intended to strengthen management of optical media and protect the rights of industry and consumers.
The draft law has 30 articles. Drafters referred to other Taiwan and foreign laws when drafting the law. They also consider the current and projected development of optical media technology. The agency designated to enforce the law is the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA). The highlights of the draft law are as follows:
a. Definitions: optical media, master, source identification code, enterprise, manufacture, and manufacturing equipment.
b. Management of manufacture of optical media: Enterprises that engage in the manufacture of optical media must obtain permits. The draft law provides grounds when the MOEA may reject permit applications or when permits may be revoked. The draft also lists the items that must be provided in applications to manufacture optical media. Applications must be made in advance to amend applications. Enterprises must retain customer order forms. The manufacture of optical media pro
ducts may be conducted only at sites designated in permits.
c. Management of source identification codes: Properly issued source identification codes are required in order to engage in the manufacture of prerecorded laser disks, read-only memory optical media, digital video disks, read-only digital video disks, laser video disks, mini optical media, audio compact disks, other types of optical media designated by the MOEA and the masters of these products. The manufacturers of these products must imprint the source identification codes on the products.
d. Management of manufacturing equipment: Equipment used to manufacture optical media products may not be imported or exported without a permit issued by the MOEA. Equipment owners must notify the MOEA after selling, leasing, renting, pledging, retiring, moving, or otherwise transferring equipment.
e. Inspection: The MOEA may at any time dispatch personel to enter optical media or master manufacturing sites and related sites for the purposes of inspections. The MOEA may order the production of related information. The site's responsible person and employees may not evade inspection obligations nor hinder or refuse access of inspectors to the site.
f. Penalties: Criminal penalties and administrative sanctions are available for violations of the draft law. Persons who manufacture optical media without permits are subject to prison terms of one year to three years. Persons who manufacture optical media products at sites other than those recorded in permits are subject to prison terms of two years or less. Persons who do not obtain required source identification codes, fail to imprint products with source identification codes, engage in false labeling, or allow third parties to use their source identification codes are subject to prison terms of two years or less. Manufacturing equipment, optical media products, and semi-finished products connected to the illegal manufacture of optical media products are subject to seizure, regardless if the items are owned by the person engaged in the criminal activity. The attempted export of optical media products without required source identification codes shall be subject to antismuggling penalties and confiscation provisions enforced by Customs. Customs shall also notify related agencies of the alleged activities in order that those agencies may take proper action.
g. Transition provisions: Enterprises engaged in producing optical media products prior to the enforcement of the law must apply with the MOEA for a permit to manufacture optical media within three months after the enforcement of the law. Enterprises holding source identification codes issued by agencies other than the MOEA must apply for permits with the MOEA within three months after the enforcement of the law.
Mask ROM Marking Regulations Amended
On 6 March 2001, the Intellectual Property Office announced revisions to regulations governing the marking of mask ROM products. The revisions were effective immediately. The highlights of the revisions are as follows:
a. Regarding the scope of use by factories, a paragraph 4 was added to Chapter 2, Section 1 providing as follows:
Mask ROM chips designed by Taiwan firms for original equipment manufacture abroad shall be considered to be reexports and not subject to the requirements of marking. If the value added from packaging in Taiwan exceeds 35% of such products so they are considered to be exports from Taiwan, the exporter must submit a copy of the chip marki-
ng registration certificate of the designer when exporting the products.
b. Regarding submission of copies of chip marking Registration certificates, a paragraph 3 was added to Chapter 3, Section 1 providing as follows:
If an exporter exports chips designed or manufactured by third parties resulting in the name of the exporter being different than the name on the chip marking registration certificate, the exporter must provide to Customs documentation showing a commercial, commission, or licensing relationship, or submit a registration certificate chopped by the registrant stating that the exporter has the proper authorization.
c. Regarding firms which do not properly mark chips, Chapter 3, Section 1 was revised as follows:
Ⅰ.Firms that comply with regulations to mark and register chips may be included in a "registered firm list". The list is continuously updated and submitted to Customs. Listed firms are required only to state their registration certificate number on their export declarations when exporting mask ROM chips. These firms do not need to submit copies of chip marking registration certificates. In order to speed customs clearance, Customs is not required to inspect these exports.
Ⅱ.Firms which are not included on the "registered firm list" must state the numbers of their registration certificates on their export declarations and submit copies of their chip marking registration certificates. Customs will not allow exports from exporters that do not satisfy these requirements.
Ⅲ.If a firm that is listed on the registered firm list is found not to have marked its chips, not complied with chip marking registration, or is suspected of false or other inaccurate reporting of exports, the name of the firm shall be removed from the registered firm list and the competent authority shall immediately notify the Directorate General of Customs. The time period for removal in principle shall be three months. In serious cases, the time period may be extended six months.
Ⅳ.If Customs discovers exports of chips without the submission of required registration certificates, Customs shall not allow the export of the goods and immediately notify the competent authority and the Directorate General of Customs. If Customs discovers suspicious activity or receives a tip-off, Customs may transfer the chip marking registration certificate or product samples to a chip marking registration agency designated by the Intellectual Property Office for testing. The exporter may post a bond to release the products if testing may not be completed in a timely fashion due to air or sea shipment deadlines. The registration agency shall notify Customs and the IPO after testing is completed.
original Copies of Foreign Applications No Longer Required for Priority Applications
On 8 January 2001, the Intellectual Property Office announced that applicants no longer are required to submit the original copies of foreign patent applications when claiming priority in Taiwan. Under an amendment to the Patent Examination Standards, copies of applications filed in the foreign countries may be submitted when a patent applicant claims priority in Taiwan.
The amendment was intended to bring the examination standards into conformance with Article 25 of the Patent Law, which does not require that the original copies of the foreign patent applications be submited when priority is claimed.
IPO Clarifies Effective Date for Assignments, Licenses of Patents
Article 59 of the Patent Law provides that patent assignments or licenses are not available as defenses against third parties unless the assignments or licenses are first registered with the Intellectual Property Office. On 28 March 2001, the IPO announced that the effective date for agreements in which the parties express that the agreements be effective immediately for the purposes of Article 59 shall be the date that the IPO approves the registrations of the assignments or licenses.
IPO Designates Microorganism Deposit Institute
On 1 March 2001, the Intellectual Property Office announced that the Food Industry Research and Development Institute (FIRDI) had been designated to handle deposits of microorganisms relating to invention patent applications for 2001. The designation was made in accordance with Article 26 of the Patent Law and Article 16 of the Administrative Procedure Law. The FIRDI is located at No. 331, Shihpin Road, Hsinchu, Taiwan. Its telephone number is 886-3-522-3191.
Draft Trademark Law Amendment Released
The Intellectual Property Office recently released a draft of the amended Trademark Law in order to solicit public comment. Compared to the current Trademark Law, the draft contains 40 new articles while deleting 16 articles. A total of 54 existing articles were revised. The highlights of the draft amendment are as follows:
a. adding sound and three-dimensional trademarks, place of origin certification marks, and collective trademarks;
b. strengthening protection for famous trademarks and alcohol geographic indications;
c. adopting a multi-classification single application system, separate application system, and opposition after registration system;
d. abolishing associated trademarks, gradually eliminating defensive trademarks, and abolishing substantive examination for trademark extension applications;
e. eliminating the limitation on cancellation actions to "concerned persons"; and
f. adopting a review system where review and cancelation cases are appealed directly to Administra tive Court instead of through the current appeal process.
IPO Urges College Students to Protect Copyrights
The Intellectual Property Office began a series of six copyright seminars on 24 April 2001 on college campuses around Taiwan. The seminars were intended to address the common practice on campuses of using the Internet. The IPO planned to use face-to-face communication with students in order to promote the protection of copyrights.
The seminars were held at National Taiwan University, National Chengchi University, Tunghai University, National Chung Cheng University, National Cheng Kung University, and National Sun Yat-sen University.