Taiwan Seeks to Speed Up Invention Patent Applications

In a move widely expected to speed up approvals of patent applications, Taiwan’s government has announced that evidence of foreign patent applications may be submitted when applying for invention patents in Taiwan.

The announcement was issued by the Intellectual Property Office (“IPO”), a government agency under the Ministry of Economic Affairs responsible for handling patent applications and prosecutions.

According to the IPO, evidence of foreign patent applications, such as documentation showing that a foreign government has already granted approval to an invention patent or that such approval is expected shortly, or results of a patent search report conducted by a foreign patent office, may be included in applications for review. This is expected to speed up applications by reducing the workload of patent application inspectors in Taiwan.

The IPO’s announcement said that the decision was made to make Taiwan’s patent review system more similar to major industrialized countries and regions, including Europe, the United States, Canada, Japan and South Korea, which have adopted information-sharing and cooperation measures known as the “Patent Prosecution Highway” or “PPH” for short.

While Taiwan has not yet signed any bilateral agreements with other jurisdictions to implement a PPH system, it is following the examples of PPH member jurisdictions by admitting foreign patent evidence and thereby reducing the amount of time needed to review patent applications.  The new system also formalizes what has already been an informal practice since 2007

According to the IPO, patent applications have soared by 65.9 percent over the last decade, and the volume of applications is expected to continue rising. Reports have said that more than half of patent applications submitted for approval in Taiwan are identical to applications simultaneously submitted to patent offices in other major countries.

Besides implementing the PPH review system, the IPO is also drafting amendments to Taiwan’s Patent Law that will provide a more comprehensive scope of patent protection, such as by adding language covering contributory patent infringement and implementing reasonable license fees as an alternative for compensation.  The IPO is expected to hold several seminars over the coming year to solicit opinions regarding the proposed amendments before they are presented to the Legislative Yuan for review.

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