Tue, Jan 20, 2009 - Page 12 News List

Patent filings increase despite economic slump

INNOVATION The chief of the Intellectual Property Office lauded companies’ efforts to invest in new technologies to maintain their competitive edge

By Elizabeth Tchii  /  STAFF REPORTER

Local patent applications grew a mild 2 percent to 83,601 cases last year, with Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密), the nation’s biggest electronics component maker, again topping the list.

Consumer electronics, information technology and liquid-crystal-display (LCD) makers were the most aggressive in filing applications, the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) said yesterday.

“We are surprised at the increase in the number of applications given a weak macroeconomy,” IPO director general Wang Mei-hua (王美華) told reporters.

“Taiwanese companies are willing to invest in the future by developing advanced technologies to lead the competition and gain market share,” Wang said.

The report came close on the heels of another positive development — on Saturday the Office of the US Trade Representative announced the removal of Taiwan from the “Special 301 Priority Watch List” in recognition of its efforts to protect intellectual property rights (IPR).

“Taiwan did not see a decline in patent requests toward the second half of last year despite the onset of a global economic slowdown,” Wang said. “However, we’ve noticed research and development spending being curtailed at many corporations worldwide.”

Wang expects to see more companies involved in patents sales and licensing this year.

Although the director general said she was happy with the increasing focus on innovative technologies, her patent division had been inundated with work because of the high volume of patent applications.

IPO has filed a request for an increase in budget and personnel, Wang said.

She said the office needed about 300 more patent specialists, but would be happy with any extended help from the government.

Wang said her goal for this year was to keep the nation off the US’ 301 watch list.

Aside from personnel recruitment, the office will also work on streamlining the local patent application process and enforcing IPR protection on multiple levels, she said.

The IPO hosted several cross-strait forums on the legal status of patents, trademarks and copyrights last year. It also assisted Taiwanese companies in China in dealing with IP-related issues. A notable case is Taiwan Beer’s (台灣啤酒) registration in China, which was fraught with difficulties. After intensive back-to-back negotiations throughout last year, the IPO expects Taiwan Beer’s registration to be approved on Feb. 6, Wang said.

Hon Hai has topped the list for patent applications for six consecutive years, with 3,297 cases being filed and 1,136 patents being granted last year.

The No. 2 and No. 3 spots went to the Industrial Technology Research Institute (工業技術研究院) and AU Optronics Corp (友達光電), which had 927 and 679 cases filed and 373 and 311 patents granted respectively, IPO statistics showed.

Among international companies, the top three applicants were Qualcomm Inc (高通), Sony Corp (新力) and Philips Electronics NV (皇家飛利浦電子), while the top three patent grant recipients were Intel Corp (英特爾), Samsung Electronics Co (三星電子) and Seiko Epson Corp (精工愛普生).

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