Taiwan’s efforts to protect trade secrets have been recognized by the Office of the US Trade Representative’s (USTR) annual Special 301 Report, which was released on Friday.
In the first edition to be issued under US Trade Representative Katherine Tai (戴琪), the agency highlighted a case in Taiwan where an amended Trade Secrets Act (營業秘密法) enabled a court to find a local semiconductor company and three former employees guilty of stealing trade secrets from a US company in an attempt to help a Chinese state-owned enterprise develop a computer chip.
The court fined the firm US$3.4 million and sentenced the former employees to five to six years in jail, the report said.
The court’s decision is the “most significant criminal case” in Taiwan’s protection of trade secrets, the report said, adding that the “case involved substantial cooperation with US investigators and prosecutors.”
The Special 301 Report reviews the global state of intellectual property (IP) protection and enforcement, said the USTR, which conducts the review pursuant to Section 182 of the US’ Trade Act of 1974, as amended by the US’ Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 and its Uruguay Round Agreements Act.
In the report, the agency praised cooperation between the Taiwanese government and the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), the de facto US embassy in Taiwan, on the protection of IP rights.
The government and the AIT held a virtual training session for law enforcement experts from Taiwan and the US, which enabled them to share information on the protection of trade secrets and the prevention of digital piracy, the report said.
“Several trading partners have recently strengthened or have been working toward strengthening their trade secret regimes, including the EU and Taiwan,” it added.
However, Taiwan was among the markets — such as Argentina, Brazil, China, Hong Kong, Iraq, Singapore and Thailand — that reported “notable” levels of streaming piracy through illicit streaming devices and illicit Internet protocol television (IPTV) service apps, the report said.
China has even served as a manufacturing hub for the devices, while Iraq is reportedly a source of satellite receivers pre-loaded with pirated IPTV apps, it said.
Regarding China, Washington has been closely monitoring Beijing’s progress in implementing its commitments under their “phase one” trade deal, it added.
While China last year amended its patent, copyright and criminal laws, the reforms require effective implementation and fall short of the full range of fundamental changes needed to improve the IP landscape in the country, the USTR said.
China is still on the USTR’s “priority watchlist” of nations whose practices require monitoring.
Argentina, Chile, India, Indonesia, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine and Venezuela are also on the list.
The annual report details its findings of more than 100 trading partners after significant research and enhanced engagement with stakeholders, the USTR said.
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