On April 26 2018 the Executive Yuan passed a draft amendment to Articles 4, 37 and 40 of the Patent Attorney Act. The draft amendment was proposed and drafted by the Taiwan Intellectual Property Office (TIPO), passed to the Executive Yuan for review and modification and has since been sent to the Legislative Yuan for inspection and formal amendment through three successive readings.
Background The Patent Attorney Act was originally circulated on July 11 2007 and took effect on January 11 2008, with two amendments in 2009 and in 2015. Before the Patent Attorney Act was promulgated, patent matters were, in principle, handled by patent agents through the old system. In order to protect the rights and interests of patent applicants and strengthen the management of patent professional services, the new Certified Patent Attorney System was established in 2007. Those registered as patent agents under the old system are still able to practise and conduct relevant administrative matters as patent agents after the Patent Attorney Act came into force. However, the act rendered the old Patent Agent Registration System redundant.
Disqualification under the Patent Attorney Act According to the Patent Attorney Act, patent attorneys who have passed the patent attorney exam are legally authorised to handle patent matters as provided for in the Patent Act. A certified patent attorney will be disqualified for:
- having been convicted of a crime after engaging in professional services and sentenced to imprisonment for one year or more by a local or foreign court (except where he or she has been released on probation or convicted of an unintentional crime);
- having been expelled under the Patent Attorney Act;
- having his or her examination qualifications revoked pursuant to the Professionals and Technologists Examination Act;
- having had a guardianship or assistantship declared for him or her which is still in effect;
- declaring bankruptcy, with resolution pending; or
- having been diagnosed as suffering from a mental disability or other physical or mental impairment which prevents him or her from engaging in professional services.
A patent attorney whose licence has been revoked or abolished pursuant to subparagraphs 4 to 6 of the act may apply for a new licence once the issue has been resolved.
Disability rights The Patent Attorney Act must reflect the protection of the rights of those with disabilities, including the right to work on an equal basis with others and the right to the opportunity to work freely and be accepted within a working environment.
In accordance with Article 27 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (a United Nations international human rights treaty intended to protect the rights and dignities of persons with disabilities) regarding the provision to “prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability with regard to all matters concerning all forms of employment”, the amendments to the Patent Attorney Act will revise three articles. The amendments will:
- remove the provision that persons with disabilities (ie, those suffering from a mental disability or other physical or mental impairment) cannot be patent attorneys or patent agents (Articles 4 and 37); and
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- state that the revised articles will be effective on the date of the amendment’s promulgation (Article 40).