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Mon, May 20, 2002 - Page 18 News List

Pinkerton's chief hot on the trail of Taiwan's counterfeiters

The director of operations of Pinkerton (Taiwan) Ltd, Danny Macdonald, recently spoke to `Taipei Times' staff reporter Richard Dobson about the company's role in investigations into cases of intellectual property rights-abuse as well as their handling of commercial inquiries and security-consulting cases

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Pinkerton's director of operations in Taiwan, Danny Macdonald, throws an idea at `Taipei Times' reporter Richard Dobson during a recent interview.

PHOTO: CHEN CHENG-CHANG, TAIPEI TIMES

Taipei Times: What constitutes the main revenue/business source for Pinkerton in Taiwan?

Danny Macdonald: Pinkerton in Taiwan was established 24 years ago, originally as a consulting office primarily dealing with intellectual property (IP) infringements -- such as trademark, patent and copyright infringements. However, over the last 10 years the office has developed and expanded the commercial inquiries and security consulting division. Today, the commercial investigations division, which comprises of due-diligence inquiries, fraud, kickbacks, theft, conflict of interest investigations, etc., contributes approximately 40 percent of our revenue, IP investigations contributes approximately 40 percent, and security consulting, which covers crisis management planning, security surveys, technical surveillance countermeasures sweeps, proprietary information protection plans etc, contributes approximately 20 percent of our revenue.

TT: What are some of the obstacles to conducting investigations in Taiwan?

Macdonald: On the commercial inquiries side, the lack of publicly available information on firms and the lack of financial clarity makes it difficult to gather complete and accurate information on Taiwanese corporations. There is also a lack of experience on the part of the legal system in dealing with relatively new crimes, such as the theft of trade secrets, so that it can be difficult to ascertain exactly what information is needed by the courts to prosecute a subject, to ensure your client has a strong case. With regard to counterfeiting, there are quite a few issues. To start, many of the counterfeiters in Taiwan have been doing so for a number of years and after they've been caught once, they don't make the same mistake twice, so you constantly have to come up with new and innovative ways to keep ahead of these individuals. There are also difficulties relating to the legal system, with the Power of Attorney requirement still being a major problem area in Taiwan. To conduct a raid action, you require a Power of Attorney [authorization] which is signed by the responsible person of the company, which normally means the document has to be sent oversees, notarized and legalized, and then sent back to Taiwan. This process can take weeks, which makes it difficult to put together an effective enforcement program, particularly when goods can be at a factory one day and distributed throughout the market the next.

TT: How does the legal framework, local courts and police force play a role in how you conduct your work?

Macdonald: In all cases where a client's aim is to take legal action against a subject, we need to work closely with the police and the prosecutors' office, to ensure we gather enough objective information to allow the prosecutors to take action on our client's behalf within the Taiwanese legal framework. Many clients, however, often decide not to prosecute a case in Taiwan's courts because of the arbitrary nature of the legal decisions, the amount of time it takes for cases to proceed through the legal system, the difficulty in securing a conviction, and the small penalties normally sentenced by the courts. If there is the possibility of taking action against an individual in another country, our clients will often attempt to gather information in Taiwan which will assist them in taking legal action in a more judicially friendly location.

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