A commercial espionage dispute occurred between Taiwan AU Optronics Corp. (AUO) and China Star Optoelectronics (CSOT) . In an internal audit in November 2011, AUO reported to the city investigation bureau suspecting one or more employees of AUOmay be responsible of leaking commercial secrets to a manufacturer in China. However, Taiwan has no commercial espionage law, and only has a crime of disclosing commercial secrets obtained in occupation (Article 317 of the Criminal Law). The maximum punishment is fixed-term imprisonment for not more than one year. It seems that this is insufficient to deter crimes and cannot protect corporations' trade secrets.
In order to prevent serious trade secret leaking cases occurring repeatedly, the Executive Yuan had passed the amendment draft to the Trade Secrets Law on October 25, 2012, which significantly lifted criminal liability for trade secret infringing act that usually Trade secret infringement usually conducted by a former employee who steals, misappropriates, or discloses trade secrets to a competitive company. The commercial crime not only infringes on the former company’s R&D achievements but also impedes fair competition.
The revision of Trade Secrets Law has four focuses:
- Revise the criminal liability and specify the constituent elements of the crime;
- Aggravate the punishment for infringing outside of Taiwan: if one intends to use the stolen trade secrets outside of Taiwan will face the statutory sentence from six months to five years maximum along with a fine of a maximum of NT$ 50 millions;
- Combine criminal punishments: the statutory sentence is fixed-term imprisonment for no more than five years along with a fine ofa maximum of NT$ 10 million; and
- The defendant bears the burden of proof todefend in order to accelerate the litigation. It is hoped that the aggravated punishments may have the deterring effect for similar serious economic crimes.