New laws clear the path for Taiwan’s IP court
Since becoming a member of the World Trade Organisation in 2002, Taiwan has tried to ensure that its IP laws are in line with the global community. One aspect of this has been the proposal and gradual implementation of an IP court.
Policymakers in Taiwan have recognised that IP rights have profound business implications and involve more complex issues than other property rights. As such, in June 2006 the Judicial Yuan proposed a draft bill to establish a specialised court to deal with IP disputes.
Under Taiwan’s current system, IP disputes may involve three different types of litigation:
• a wronged party can sue under the civil system for damages resulting from IP infringement;
• an accused party can be criminally prosecuted for certain criminal infringements; or
• disputes over the validity of IP rights can be resolved in an administrative forum.
According to the bill, the IP court would have non-exclusive jurisdiction in IP cases. Civil, criminal, and administrative cases could be reviewed by the IP court, while first-instance criminal cases would still be heard by the district courts.
The Judicial Yuan has announced that it has already started training judges to sit in the new IP court. It is expected that such judges will have essential and specialised IP knowledge. The IP court will also feature technical examiners, who will help to clarify the technical issues involved in IP cases.
In January 2007 the Legislative Yuan enacted the Intellectual Property Adjudication Act, which deals with, among other things, civil litigation, criminal litigation and administrative litigation. The main points of the act include the following:
• Courts may undertake hearings via teleconferencing.
• IP rights cases must be heard by a central court. A technical examiner must be present to provide professional assistance during litigation or during the evidence preservation process, to help with the collection of evidence and to protect business secrets, thereby promoting the one-time resolution of IP rights disputes.
• Courts may issue a secrecy order, in accordance with a statement by the parties to the litigation or a third party, so that the trial proceedings are not made public and the reading, copying, and photographing of trial information is restricted.
• In civil and criminal IP right cases, the courts can make their own determination about the points in dispute as to whether there is cause for the revocation or abolishment of the IP right. The courts should not allow applications for the delay of the trial process. (One of the current problems with IP rights cases is that litigation is frequently protracted by waiting for charges, judgments and other administrative procedures.)
On March 5 2007 the Legislative Yuan passed the IP Court Organic Act, authorising the Judicial Yuan to establish a court to hear cases related to intellectual property. In accordance with the act, the IP court will judge IP-related civil, criminal and administrative cases. First-instance civil trial proceedings and simple administrative trial proceedings will be heard by a single judge, while civil and criminal appeals, objection proceedings and normal administrative cases will be heard by a panel of three judges. The location of the IP court will be determined by the Judicial Yuan, with branches set up as necessitated by geography and the number of cases. The court will be led by a chief judge, who will be in charge of all related administrative matters. The number of hearing rooms in the court will be determined by need, with a head judge being appointed for each. Public defenders and technical investigators will also be appointed.
On March 28 2007 the president of Taiwan promulgated the Intellectual Property Court Organic Act and the IP Case Proceeding Act. The Judicial Yuan will set the dates for implementation of the new laws, which is expected early in 2008.
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