Over the past decade, the business relationship between Taiwan and China has become much closer. As trade across the Taiwan Strait has increased, the number of disputes over IP rights applications, protection and infringement has also risen. As such, the Cross-Strait Agreement on IP Rights Cooperation and Protection was recently signed by the Taiwanese Straits Exchange Foundation and the Chinese Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits. The agreement will establish a platform for communication and consultation. In future, parties on both sides of the strait are expected to resolve IP rights issues more directly, effectively and efficiently. The agreement was approved by the Legislative Yuan, which is Taiwan’s unicameral legislature, and aims to encourage and facilitate economic, technological and cultural development between Taiwan and China by protecting the rights of people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

In accordance with the agreement, Taiwan (and China) will strengthen the cross-strait protection of patents, trademarks, copyrights and plant variety rights under the principles of equality and reciprocity by:

  • Cooperating in search and inspection work related to patents and plant variety rights.
  • Encouraging cooperation between companies. 
  • Implementing copyright certification services.

They will also:

  • Crack down on piracy and other copying.
  • Work to prevent the malicious registration of famous trademarks, geographical indications and origin names.
  • Enhance market surveillance and investigations of false marks of origin on fruit and other agricultural products through the platform for communication between the respective relevant agencies.

The platform also provides a consultation and resolution mechanism to achieve stronger IP rights protection. The Taiwan Intellectual Property Office has observed that IP rights are private rights, and that the protection of such rights is carried out under the principle of territoriality. Thus, if the intellectual property of a Taiwanese owner is maliciously registered, copied or pirated in China, the owner must first apply for redress under the relevant Chinese laws. If the IP rights owner encounters problems in the redress process, the Taiwanese government will help to resolve the problems through a negotiation and resolution mechanism.

In addition, the priority of Chinese patents, trademarks and plant varieties rights applications will be claimable in Taiwan (and vice versa) through the implementation of laws and regulations under the principles of equality and reciprocity, which should greatly improve the protection of rights holders.

Taiwan’s economy is largely dependent on the technology and trade industry. In order to encourage further development of the industry, according to a Taiwanese government official, the agreement is expected to:

  • Encourage innovation, patent applications and the management and protection of IP rights.
  • Safeguard research and development achievements.
  • Prevent a drain on plant variety technology.
  • Foster development of the cultural innovation industry in Taiwan.

The agreement should help to enhance and improve IP rights protection and cooperation across the strait. Foreign companies looking to enter the Chinese market through a business presence in Taiwan are also expected to benefit from the new agreement. The government will continue to monitor the issues and problems associated with the protection of cross-strait IP rights in order to ensure further cooperation in the future.

This article first appeared in IAM magazine. For further information please visit www.iam-magazine.com.