Trade Secrets Act amendment aims to decrease thefts

By Kevin Chen  /  Staff reporter

Sat, Jan 12, 2013 - Page 14

An amendment to the Trade Secrets Act (營業秘密法) passed its third reading in the legislature yesterday, adding regulations that include criminal liability and increased penalties in a bid to prevent leaks of trade secrets.

The move came as more Taiwanese companies are calling for a law on industrial espionage, especially by China, as growing cross-strait ties have made it easier for Chinese businesses to steal sensitive information from Taiwanese firms.

In October, local flat-panel maker AU Optronics Corp (友達) reported that two former executives stole trade secrets from the company and supplied them to a Chinese rival in exchange for hefty rewards, including employment.

Under the amended act, those who attempt to steal or disclose trade secrets for personal profit will be subject to up to five years in prison and a fine of NT$1 million to NT$10 million (US$34,500 to US$345,000). If the monetary gains from the improper conduct exceed the maximum fine of NT$10 million, the court could raise the fine by up to 300 percent at its discretion, the amended act stipulates.

The Intellectual Property Office (IPO), which initiated the amendment, said yesterday in a statement that the act also states that those found guilty of stealing or disclosing trade secrets to foreign countries are subject to imprisonment of between one and 10 years as well as a fine of between NT$3 million and NT$50 million.

If the gains exceed the maximum fine of NT$50 million, the court could increase it by between two to 10 times at its discretion, the IPO said.