Taiwan passes CPTPP-compliant intellectual property amendments

04/15/2022 10:33 PM
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Legislative Speaker You Si-kun (right) presides over the Legislative Yuan sitting Friday, during which the amended intellectual property rights-related laws were passed. CNA photo April 15, 2022
Legislative Speaker You Si-kun (right) presides over the Legislative Yuan sitting Friday, during which the amended intellectual property rights-related laws were passed. CNA photo April 15, 2022

Taipei, April 15 (CNA) The Legislature passed a slew of amendments to Taiwan's intellectual property laws Friday, part of the country's efforts to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) trade pact.

The amendments to the Copyright Act, Trademark Act and Patent Act were passed as drafted by the Cabinet and sent to the Legislature in January.

The new legal framework for intellectual property rights will meet the standards set out in the CPTPP free trade agreement, and is expected to help in the country's negotiations to join the 11-member trade bloc, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said in a statement released Friday.

The amendments also bring the laws up to date and improve protections for intellectual property rights owners, according to the ministry.

Copyright, trademark laws

The CPTPP agreement stipulates criminal procedures and penalties to be applied in certain cases of willful trademark counterfeiting or copyright piracy. As such, the amended Copyright Act and Trademark Act will allow prosecutors to investigate a wider range of copyright or trademark infringements, which previously could only be brought to a criminal court by rights holders, the ministry said.

Under the amended laws, prosecutors will be able to initiate investigations into more potential copyright infringements if the pirated materials are not available for free, they are reproduced in their original form and the piracy causes financial damage of at least NT$1 million (US$34,316), according to the ministry.

The removal of the word "knowingly" in the Trademark Act means that civil liability in infringement cases will be decided as in most civil cases with the court considering whether the individuals involved committed the act with intent or negligence, while rulings on violations of the act in criminal cases will be based on whether there is intent, the ministry said.

Criminal penalties have also been added to the Trademark Act for offenses involving the unauthorized use of trademarks for the production, importation, exportation, sale, display and possession of counterfeit goods or services, the ministry added.

Amended Patent Act

Meanwhile, the amendment to the Patent Act establishes a more comprehensive legal mechanism when it comes to disputes over generic drugs, which currently fall under the Pharmaceutical Affairs Act, according to the ministry.

The amended Patent Act provides legal grounds for patent owners of new drugs to file a case against generic drug makers in court. It also protects generic drug makers if patent owners fail to file a legal case within a certain period of time or if the generic drug maker obtains a declaratory judgment for non-infringement from the court, the ministry said.

Taiwan submitted an application in September 2021 to join the free trade agreement, which was signed by Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, New Zealand, Singapore, and Vietnam in March 2018.

Other applicants seeking to join the trade bloc, which has a total gross domestic product (GDP) of US$10.6 trillion and accounts for 13.3 percent of the world's GDP, include China, the United Kingdom, and Ecuador.

Yonhap News Agency reported Friday that the South Korean government has decided on a plan to submit an official application to join the trade bloc after completing domestic procedures.

(By Joy Tseng, Wang Yang-yu and Kay Liu)

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