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New bill that would expand trademark protection clears first hurdle

2011/05/09 20:26:10

Taipei, May 9 (CNA) Anything that serves to "identify" something,whether in the form of words, patterns or graphics, colors, hologramsor sounds, could soon be submitted for trademark protection inTaiwan.

A draft amendment of the Trademark Act that would expand thecategories of items eligible for trademark registration made itthrough committee Monday but still has to pass two more reviews bythe full Legislative Yuan for it to become law.

Wang Mei-hua, director general of the Intellectual PropertyOffice (IPO) under the Ministry of Economic Affairs, said that if therevised law clears the legislature, animations and holograms thatappear on cell phones could also receive trademark protection.

She said the Nokia image that appears when its phones are turnedon has already obtained trademark registration in several countries,and it could also apply for protection in Taiwan under the draft billif passed.

As for smells, because many countries have not yet established astandard, the Executive Yuan decided not to include the category inthe Trademark Act revision.

If applications are received to register smells as trademarks,the office will work out related administrative orders to handle thecase, Wang said.

Wang was also asked about the issue of selling counterfeitproducts on the Internet, which has been contentious because courtrulings in Taiwan have differed on whether selling counterfeitproducts online is an act of "displaying and selling."

She said that under the draft bill, any digital media or Internetsites that offered the service of selling counterfeit products wouldconstitute a copyright infringement.

But fines for counterfeiters could come down. In past convictionson sales of counterfeit bags, the minimum fine for violators of 500times the bag's value has been applied, pushing fines as high asNT$100 million, or NT$500,000 per bag, which the IPO did not feel wasproportionate to the crime.

After consulting with the Judicial Yuan on the matter, the IPOdecided to drop the minimum fine while leaving the maximum fine at1,500 times the copied object's value, giving judges greaterdiscretion in awarding compensation. Wang said.

(By Justine Su and Lilian Wu)