Taiwan’s Current Intellectual Property Rights Challenges

Through improved legislation, stricter enforcement, and the fast-tracking of intellectual property rights (IPR) cases through the court system, Taiwan has developed one of the strongest IPR protection regimes in the Asia Pacific region.

While acknowledging the progress already achieved, however, the Intellectual Property & Licensing section of the newly published 2017 Taiwan White Paper of the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei points out some key areas where additional efforts are needed and offers suggestions to the Taiwan Intellectual Property Office (TIPO) on how to modernize the IPR system.

In its position paper, for example, the Chamber’s Intellectual Property & Licensing Committee notes that “online copyright infringement continues to grow, and through inaction Taiwan is increasingly falling behind the rest of the world” in confronting the issue. The core of the problem is the prevalence of offshore websites that make pirated movies, music, and other content available to Taiwanese consumers.

The Committee’s recommendations for resolving online copyright infringement include:

  • Disrupt revenue flows to pirate sites by developing an Infringing Website List (IWL) of illegal pirate sites to be vetted and held by law enforcement agencies. The next step is to seek agreement from online advertisers not to do business with IWL sites.
  • Require internet service providers (ISPs) to disable access to infringing websites. Adopt legal provisions to require ISPs take reasonable steps (known as “site-blocking”) to disable access to infringing sites. Implement a “no-fault” approach by which ISPs are not held liable for the sites’ copyright infringement.
  • Prohibit the marketing and distribution of plug-and-play media devices that facilitate online copyright infringement. The position paper notes that “plug-in” media players represent “the fastest growing challenge to effective copyright enforcement, retarding growth and innovation in the global audio-visual industry.”
  • Improve Taiwan’s legal framework to ensure successful prosecutions against those enabling copyright infringement. Close gaps in current legislation that make it difficult to prosecute key individuals involved in distributing infringing content, the platforms of distribution, and the software that connects such content to individual devices. Also amend the IPR Case Adjudication Act to enable copyright holders to obtain injunction relief from the IP Court to block access to overseas rogue websites.

Another issue covered in the position paper is the need for revisions to the Copyright Act to bring the legislation up to date. The Committee notes when Taiwan was preparing for potential entry into the Trans-Pacific Partnership in recent years, a number of positive reforms to copyright legislation were proposed, but these measures were not incorporated in the latest draft amendments.

Recommended provisions for inclusion in the law include:

  • Continue to treat optical disk piracy as a public crime punishable by law.
  • Extend the term of copyright protection from the current 50 to at least 70 years, in line with global trends.
  • Remove the proposed exemption from the law of retransmission of content received through “home-use” facilities.
  • Adopt a more reasonable system for calculating damages so as to properly cover the copyright owner’s accumulated losses.

To read the full Intellectual Property & Licensing position paper, click here.