Wed, May 03, 2000 - Page 17 News List

Officials are committed to enforcement

By Cybil Chou  /  STAFF REPORTER

Trade officials in Taiwan expressed regret over Taiwan being placed on the US Trade Representative Office's (USTR) "watch list" list for lax enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR) on exported goods.

"We regret again being named to the (301) list this year," Lin Yi-fu (林義夫), vice minister of Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA, 經濟部), told local media.

"But we remain committed to the protection of intellectual property rights and continue to communicate with our US counterparts on these issues," he added.

Officials at the Board of Foreign Trade (國貿局) said that US trade partners appearing on the watch list would not be subjected to immediate trade retaliation measures.

Foreign trade board officials said this would not have any immediate impact on Taiwanese trade with the US, and acknowledged the enforcement of IP laws is a matter concerning Taiwan's reputation as well as its high-tech development and trade. In response to the request by the USTR, the board has agreed to simplify access to the judicial system in infringement cases and to extend the marking requirements on certain chip types. Some disagreements with the USTR remain unresolved.

Local IP lawyers said that Taiwan still has much work to do in the enforcement of its intellectual property laws.

"Taiwan's chip industry has been a major contributor to worldwide illicit trafficking in counterfeit chips which have been manufactured in Taiwan and shipped to China for inclusion in electronics and game sets," said Nicholas Chen (陳文俊), who heads the China Business Committee at the American Chamber of Commerce.

"This has not only destroyed the legitimate market in China, but also been the source for the worldwide distribution of counterfeit chip products coming out of Hong Kong," Chen added.

According to Chen, chips from Taiwan have been sold to Chinese counterfeiters who are either state-owned, Taiwan-invested, or locally-protected enterprises.

The distribution of such counterfeit chipsets from Taiwan into the worldwide distribution system costs legitimate manufacturers many billions of US dollars annually, Chen pointed out.

Taiwan chip companies have not agreed to a proposed chip marking program because of the additional cost of production. But many legitimate owners of intellectual property believe the refusal of the domestic industry, and local authorities, to facilitate chip marking is to ensure that the counterfeiting is not traced back to Taiwan.

This attitude should be replaced by the rule of law concept which will show Taiwan's clean hands and respect for intellectual property, and thus does not dirty Taiwan's name reputation, Chen said.

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