Taipei, Nov. 28 (CNA) A new bill that seeks to impose heavy punishment for leaking trade secrets cleared the first hurdle in the Legislature on Wednesday.
Under the bill cleared by the legislative Economics Committee, those who steal trade secrets could face up to 10 years in prison and high punitive fines.
The bill to amend the Trade Secrets Act must still pass two screenings by the full Legislature in order to become law.
It stipulates that those who attempt to steal and disclose trade secrets for personal profit may be subject to up to five years in prison and a fine of NT$1 million to NT$10 million.
If the gains from the theft of trade secrets exceed the maximum fine of NT$10 million, the court could raise the fine by up to 300 percent at its discretion, the bill states.
Those found guilty of stealing or disclosing trade secrets to foreign countries, or mainland China, Hong Kong or Macau, may be imprisoned for one to 10 years and fined between NT$1 million and NT$50 million, according to the bill.
If the gains exceed the maximum fine of NT$50 million, the court could increase it by two to 10 times at its discretion, it states.
Current and former civil servants with access to trade secrets could be sentenced to 150 percent of the normal punishment, if they violate the law, the bill says.
"We hope to deter those who may attempt to steal or disclose trade secrets for their own profit,” said Legislator Su Chen-ching of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party and a member of the committee.
"We also want to give legal protection to the research and development work of manufacturers,” Su said.
The bill is being processed in the Legislature amid public concerns about an alleged leak of a Taiwan-based panel maker's trade secrets to Chinese rivals.
Local reports said the two former AU Optronics Corp. research officials allegedly stole files containing information on the company's panel production technology, including patented foldable panels, before they left to work for China's TCL Group.
(By Chen Shun-hsieh and Lilian Wu)