Wed, Jul 30, 2003 - Page 10 News List

Disney sting earns Taiwan praise for IPR enforcement

By Bill Heaney  /  STAFF REPORTER

The local representatives of World Family Taiwan Ltd (寰宇家庭), exclusive licensee for the Walt Disney Company, thanked the government yesterday for cracking down on counterfeiters of Disney's World of English teaching aids which were being sold over the Internet in Taiwan.

"The government of the Republic of China has taken serious actions in protecting intellectual property rights [IPR]," Chung Tu, general manager of World Family, told Minister of the Interior Yu Cheng-hsien (余政憲) at a special ceremony in Taipei's Hyatt hotel yesterday afternoon. "Being able to handle such a difficult case so passionately and efficiently impressed us [and convinced us that] the police force is serious about this."

Squad 9 of the Criminal Investigation Police Office of the National Police Agency cracked four cases of IPR infringement on Yahoo and Ebay's auction Web sites. Counterfeiters were selling children's educational products published by companies such as Disney and World Family. Police seized 7,796 pirated goods in the case.

"Fighting counterfeiting and piracy and improving the protection of intellectual property rights are the core element of Taiwan's current national policy," Yu said. "Moreover, promoting the development of a knowledge-based economy and creating [an] excellent investment environment are the Cabinet's concrete moves toward reviving the economy."

One representative of the foreign business community in Taiwan was on hand to offer his congratulations, but urged continued vigilance.

"We are all here to recognize that Taiwan is making progress in fighting piracy and other forms of IPR violations," said American Chamber of Commerce (Am-Cham) executive director Richard Vuylsteke. "We want to extend our sincere appreciation for the government's efforts in this regard. At the same time, today's special event reminds us that the war on piracy and counterfeiting is a continuing battle ... the protection of IPR is one of the chamber's major concerns."

Taiwan is still falling short on IPR protection, Vuylsteke said.

"AmCham believes that Tai-wan has great potential to be a prime location for foreign and domestic businesses to conduct R&D, production, distribution and sales activities domestically, regionally and globally. But at present that potential is far from being realized. Unfortunately, Taiwan's IPR record still discour-ages investment," he said.

Yu presented the government's spring semester IPR report card. From January to last month, police agencies nationwide handled 2,459 cases of IPR infringements, which included 29 cases of patent infringement, 858 cases of trademark infringement and 1,572 cases of copyright infringement. These involved 3,044 suspects who were forwarded for prosecution. The market value of goods seized amounted to more than NT$5 billion, the minister said.

The spokesman for the companies International Horizons and World Family threw the gauntlet down for local counterfeiters.

"Let this event also be a warning to pirates," said Brett Davison. "The Taiwan government, World Family, and the international community as supported by the American Chamber of Commerce are committed to putting pirates out of business."

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