Mon, May 26, 2003 - Page 11 News List

Taiwan's IPR protectors set for tough fight ahead

With the spotlight on Taiwan's intellectual property rights (IPR) after the nation was placed back on the US Trade Representative Office's Special 301 Priority Watch List earlier this month, `Taipei Times' staff reporter Bill Heaney spoke to Taiwan's No. 2 man on IPR, Jack Lu, deputy director-general of the Ministry of Economic Affairs' Intellectual Property Office about what Taiwan is doing about counterfeiting

By Bill Heaney  /  STAFF REPORTER

Jack Lu, deputy director-general of the Ministry of Economic Affairs' Intellectual Property Office is one of the men leading the fight against the nation's IPR abusers.

PHOTO: CHIANG YING-YING, TAIPEI TIMES

Taipei Times: At the beginning of May, Taiwan was placed back on the USTR Office's Special 301 Priority Watch list due to a continuing lack of enforcement of IPR, according to the report. What concrete measures did you take last year to get off the list?

Jack Lu (盧文祥): We were disappointed by the decision ... but we have continually corresponded with the US regarding concrete measures we have taken, such as setting up the joint optical disk and integrated enforcement task forces earlier in the year. The anti-counterfeiting committee joined forces with the other two teams this April. Three new warehouses are now available for the storage of seized pirated optical disks and manufacturing equipment. Customs has new powers to seize both import-bound and export-bound optical disk products. Those implementations are expected to enhance the entire law enforcement body's investigative and enforcement capabilities significantly in the near future.

TT: What kind of new powers do Customs have?

Lu: They have to inspect whether the source identification code is imprinted on the disk. If not, they will halt the shipment and verify whether the disks are pirated are not. This new regulation came into force in March. Since the implementation of this new mechanism, there have been many cases stopped at Customs.

TT: You called the Special 301 decision unfair at the time, but beyond the issue of fairness, does the government have the will to do anything different this year than it has done in the last three years to potentially get off the list next year?

Lu: We will have a much better performance this year. Firstly the reward for informants has been increased to NT$10 million, that's about US$300,000. To provide an extra incentive for IPR enforcement officials, the bonus for police officials who crack down on pirates and achieve outstanding results has been increased by 10-fold to NT$2 million, or about US$60,000. The number of credit points awarded to police officers who crack down on IPR infringers has been doubled to 10 points per case. With enough points, officers can gain a promotion. So yes, the government has a strong will to ensure effective IPR protection.

TT: Have there been more prosecutions as a result of these new rewards?

Lu: More information is being gathered from the toll-free hot line. In particular there are three cases that are eligible for a reward. In one case the informant will receive NT$2.5 million, and a policeman will receive NT$600,000.

TT: Foreign governments and businesses have praised the work you have done to improve IPR legislation, but have been disappointed with your enforcement record for years. What's going to be different in 2003?

Lu: I mentioned the joint task forces which have consolidated work under the same roof. This coming together has had results. From January to April this year, the joint teams conducted 316 random inspections nationwide on optical disk manufacturers, compared with 297 such inspections for the whole of 2002. Of these, 89 took place at night. In total, 21 optical disk plants were inspected, leading to 14 manufacturers and five packaging plants being shut down. Sixteen sets of manufacturing equipment were confiscated.

In addition, as of March 31 the National Police Administration reported 1,375 instances of IPR infringement, and 1,729 suspects arrested. The value of the pirated and counterfeited goods seized was estimated at more than NT$1.8 billion, almost US$52 million.

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