Big changes will bring Taiwan’s Patent Law up to date
In order to catch up with the rapid development of technology and changes regarding international IP rights, more than 40 articles of the Patent Law (approximately one-third of the law) are due to be amended. Taiwan’s current Patent Law was published on 2nd February 2003 and came into force in 1st July 2004, making it a little out of date. The Taiwan Intellectual Property Office (TIPO) has gathered opinions from and held discussions with various groups in order to draft amendments to the Patent Law. It is hoped that the amended law will improve efficiency and quality in patent applications.
Proposed changes to the Patent Law include the following:
- Article 24, which makes animals and plants unpatentable, will be repealed in order to allow animal and plant patents (eg, genes, gene-containing organisms, cells, tissue cultures, organs, genetically modified animals and plants, and biological processes).
- Provisions will be added regarding compulsory licences for the production of certain medicines (eg, drugs for treating AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other contagious diseases) for export to other countries. This is to fulfil Taiwan’s obligations as a member of the World Trade Organisation – members must have such public health provisions in place in order to help developing and undeveloped countries to obtain essential medicines through compulsory-licensed production.
- Research privileges will be expanded to include non-profit personal uses. These will cover pre-clinical and clinical trials designed to help generic drug suppliers to ensure that they do not infringe patents.
- With regard to design patents, the amendments will allow partial design patents as well as patents for computer icons and graphic user interfaces, and disallow assembly patents.
- Provisions will be added with regard to correcting and amending technical reports for utility patents.
- The amended law will expand the remedies for late payment of renewals, prevent holders from regaining patent rights in the case of third-party intervention during the cancellation period, and clarify the definitions of ‘patent construction’, ‘patent rights exhaustion’, ‘personal non-profit use’, ‘farmer’s privilege’, ‘compulsory licensing’ and ‘cross-licences’.
- Finally, the amended law will revise remedies for infringement.
In order to complete the amendments, TIPO held many public hearings and opened an online forum on its website. TIPO is expected to receive opinions from various groups (including patent attorneys and the Taiwan Bar Association) regarding the amendments.
The final public hearing will be held in May 2008. As the Legislative Yuan has recently been focusing on IP laws, it is expected that the new amendments to the Patent Law will be fast-tracked and could be passed later this year.
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