Sat, Jul 19, 2008 - Page 12 News List

Taiwan better on IPR, but must do more: forum

NEW SILICON VALLEY US lawyer John Eastwood said if the government can get IPR management right then Taiwan could attract the brightest in technology

By Jerry Lin and Elizabeth Tchii  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Taiwan has a chance to become an attractive place for innovators if the government can support intellectual property rights (IPR) holders, both local and foreign, and implement good long-term technology policies, a Taipei-based US attorney said yesterday at an IPR conference.

“Just like the Silicon Valley in the US, where it [IPR protection] has become a magnet to attract the best and brightest technology people from all over the world, I believe Taiwan can do the same thing,” John Eastwood, a US attorney and resident partner at Wenfei Attorneys-At-Law’s (瑞士文斐律師事務所) Taipei Office, told the Taipei Times during an interview yesterday.

Eastwood was invited to give a speech on trademark law and its relation to the nation’s economy at the annual IPR conference organized by LexisNexis in Taipei.

Eastwood said the establishment of an IPR police force was a big success for the government in protecting IPR and he also applauded the government’s continuous efforts to make Taiwan a better environment for people to do business.

Despite this, the government’s missteps would be the Philips case, which Eastwood said was a huge embarrassment for Taiwan as it made investors, technology companies and people from the legal profession view the nation as an unfair and difficult place to do business.

On March 13, the Taipei High Administrative Court nullified a Ministry of Economic Affairs’ decision on granting a compulsory license to Gigastorage Corp (國碩科技) for five patents related to recordable compact discs owned by Royal Philips Electronics NV. The ruling came after a European Commission report issued on Jan. 30 said that the ministry’s compulsory license ruling was inconsistent with WTO rules on IPR.

“[It appears as if] the government pursued a short-term gain instead of long-term technology policy … Protecting IP, technologies and innovators is what it is all about to have a long-term policy,” Eastwood said.

The IPR conference, held for the first time in Taiwan, attracted a total of 130 companies and around 200 participants to the two-day event.

The second afternoon of the conference saw insightful speeches from Lexis Nexis Asia Pacific, leading global law firm Howrey, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp (TSMC, 台積電) and IBM Taiwan Corp.

Michel De Brujin from the Global IP Solutions team at Lexis Nexis covered global trends in the IPR market and helped the audience to translate them into solutions.

De Brujin shared his company’s research that 35 percent of patent applications are from Asian countries, specifically China, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan.

The growth in the number of patent applications from Taiwan was between 1 percent and 2 percent, as opposed to a worldwide growth of 4.9 percent, he said. This indicated that Taiwanese patents were valued more for quality, rather than quantity, he said.

Glen Rhodes, a partner at Howrey, advised the audience on anti-trust basics and gave plenty of real world examples of the anti-trust lawsuits and their respective court sentences.

Richard Thurston, vice president and general counsel at TSMC, shared his concerns about local corporations’ lack of understanding and fighting spirit in the intellectual property war.

Thurston’s final conclusion was that the “Taiwan government must assist the private sector to establish a visionary intellectual property development implementation strategy and action plan.”

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