Sat, Mar 09, 2002 - Page 17 News List

US, Taiwan to share IPR information

STAFF REPORTER

The government has agreed to US demands to turn over any information regarding Taiwanese firms that have violated intellectual property rights of American firms, according to media reports.

But despite the cooperative spirit and calls by the government for its removal from a US "special 301 watch list" for serious IPR violators, it appears Taiwan will likely be named again next month as an offending nation.

The US made the request for access to data from the Ministry of Finance on firms that are under investigation for IPR infringements, according to Chinese-language media.

The request was reportedly made after an agreement was signed between Taipei and Washington recently on customs matters relating to smuggling.

Officials from the American Institute in Taiwan denied any knowledge of the agreement, while ministry officials were unavailable when sought for comment.

The government's agreement to provide the US with the data comes roughly a month before the United States Trade Representative Office releases its annual "special 301 watch list" of countries that violate intellectual property rights.

Taiwan was placed on the priority watch list last April due to what Washington saw as delays in amending IPR laws to bring them in line with international standards.

But in a report sent to the USTR detailing advances made in the last 12 months on IPR protection, the Board of Foreign Trade has urged the US not to include it on the list this year.

Eager to show it is working to shrug off its label as one of the world's major sources for counterfeit goods, the government has designated this year as "IPR protection" year.

Hoping to put up a unified front among the numerous agencies that combat IPR violations -- one of the major problems facing enforcement is a lack of coordination among government agencies -- the government is currently formulating a united action plan.

Further dampening Taiwan's hopes of removal from the list is the fact that the International Intellectual Property Rights Protection Association and the International Anti-Counterfeit Confederation have recommended to the US that Taiwan remain designated as a top IPR violator.

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