The Economic Cooperation Agreement: Making Your Mark in Taiwan
Wednesday 13th November 2013
New Zealand and Taiwan signed the Economic Cooperation Agreement (ANZTEC) in July 2013. The most notable provision is the removal of tariffs on New Zealand’s exports. This reflects the increased demand for New Zealand’s goods and services and the burgeoning investment opportunity that Taiwan has to offer.
For intellectual property owners looking to invest in Taiwan, it is crucial to have a strong strategy in place. Establishing, protecting and enforcing rights in Taiwan can be complex and a good understanding of where the issues lie is critical.
Below is a brief look at Taiwan’s intellectual property law and its applicability to New Zealand.
Agriculture no longer drives Taiwan’s economy. Manufacturing and technology are at the forefront, making patent protection more important than ever.
Taiwan provides for registration of invention patents, utility models, and design patents. Rights are granted upon publication and endure for ten to twenty years, depending on the type of patent and subject to the payment of any renewal fees.
New Zealander applicants are able to seek patent protection by virtue of New Zealand’s membership with the World Trade Organisation. Priority claims based on home applications can be made in Taiwan within 12 months of the New Zealand filing date. Taiwan is not a signatory to the Patent Cooperation Treaty. It follows that national phase entries 30 months after the original filing date are not possible.
Taiwan is committed to preventing copyright infringement. While online piracy is a persistent problem, recent amendments to legislation reflect a government crackdown.
In 1998 the copyright registration system was abolished, making record-keeping a crucial exercise for proprietors. Contracts and agreements clarifying ownership are also important. These help to prevent misappropriation and pave the way for licensing opportunities.
New Zealanders can enjoy protection for works first published in Taiwan or in New Zealand, so long as the work is republished in Taiwan thirty days after the initial publication. Save a few exceptions, protection lasts for the life of the owner plus 50 years. While the ideas behind a work are not covered, copyright can subsist in a range of mediums, including pictures, music, architecture and videos.
Priority trade mark protection is available to New Zealanders. Once a mark is registered, formal rights will continue indefinitely so long as renewal fees are paid every ten years.
In contrast to the common law situation where rights can be established through use, Taiwan operates under a first to file system. Claims can only vest in trade marks that have been granted formal protection. Well-known and famous marks are the exception. Regardless of their registration status, owners can prevent the use and protection of similar brands if their trade mark has developed a significant reputation in Taiwan.
If you are keen to invest in Taiwan, or have already made the move, come and have chat with us here at Baldwins. While ANZTEC is paving the way for competitive advantage, our understanding of Taiwan’s intellectual property system will help you gain a secure platform for consolidating existing advantages and extending your opportunities.
This article was written by Sue Ironside.