USTR 2001 Special 301 Report
PR0112E | Date: 2001-05-01
United States Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick April 30, 2001, announced the results of the 2001 "Special 301" annual review, which examined in detail the adequacy and effectiveness of intellectual property protection in approximately 80 countries, the largest number of countries ever reviewed. The announcement states that Taiwan's designation is changed from the Watch List to the Priority Watch List.
The U.S. copyright industries contend that Taiwan is one of the largest producers of pirated optical media products in the world. Dozens of optical media plants operate in Taiwan, with a total production capacity that far exceeds Taiwan's domestic demand. Despite this problem, Taiwan has declined to enact the kind of strong optical media licensing legislation that has been effective in countering piracy elsewhere in the region. It has also failed to shut down known pirate operations.
Some aspects of Taiwan's copyright and patent laws appear out of compliance with the TRIPS Agreement, which Taiwan has agreed to implement fully as of the date of its accession to the WTO. Although Taiwan's current patent law provides a 20-year term of protection from the date of application, this TRIPS-consistent term is only provided to patents that were applied for after January 23, 1994. Patents with applications prior to this date receive only a 15-year term of protection from the date of publication of the application, with a maximum of 18 years from the date of actual application. The copyright law also needs strengthening in a number of areas including protection for temporary copies. Trademark owners also experience significant levels of counterfeiting in Taiwan, particularly of auto spare parts.
Enforcement of intellectual property rights improved somewhat over the past year, with increased raids against and prosecutions of IPR infringers, as well as efforts to ensure the use of only licensed software in government offices. However, without adequate legislation and sustained enforcement efforts, Taiwan remains a haven for pirates. U.S. trade officials have visited Taiwan twice in recent months to discuss with Taiwan authorities about how Taiwan can strengthen its IPR protection, and we understand that legislation that is intended to address our concerns regarding patent term was introduced in April. Specifically, we look to Taiwan to enact an effective optical media licensing law and complete the process of amending its copyright law in the coming months, and to enact a TRIPS-consistent patent law that would be effective upon accession to the WTO.