Content

Five important issues to consider when investing in or partnering with Taiwanese companies

Whether forming a joint venture company with a Taiwan partner or making an investment in an existing Taiwan company, we strongly recommend clients give careful consideration to the terms and conditions in the operative agreement, be it a joint venture agreement or a shareholders’ agreement. We are routinely asked to review, negotiate, and draft such agreements. In working with these agreements, we invariably identify issues that foreign counter-parties have neglected, the omission of which could have a significant adverse effect on the success of their Taiwan venture. Set out below are important, but often neglected, issues which foreign counter-parties should consider when making an investment or forming a joint venture in Taiwan.

1. Corporate governance procedural defaults

The recent amendment of Taiwan’s Company Act (the “Act”) did a great deal to bring Taiwan’s corporate governance procedures more in line with those in other developed countries. That being said, there are a number of corporate governance procedures which are now allowable pursuant to the Act, but which are not the statutory default. For instance, under the current Act the board of directors may act by written resolution. However, this ability to act by written resolution in lieu of convening a meeting must be explicitly granted in the relevant company’s Articles of Incorporation.The Act requires other corporate governance mechanisms, which foreign counter-parties often take for granted, to be specifically set out in the Articles of Incorporation. In light of this situation, we recommend a thorough review of how the parties plan to govern and operate the Taiwan venture so that we can recommend appropriate amendments to the Taiwan vehicle’s Articles of Incorporation.

2. Statutory preemptive rights

Very often, parties involved in a Taiwan venture wish to restrict share ownership and preserve their initial ownership percentages. The Act grants preemptive rights to each existing shareholder, subject to a requirement that ten (10) to fifteen (15) percent of new equity issuances by a corporation be reserved for purchase by employees (except under very limited circumstances). If the preservation of precise ownership percentages is of paramount importance to the parties, business forms other than a standard corporation could be employed. Alternative business forms each come with their attendant advantages and disadvantages so each would need to be evaluated to determine whether new, more serious, issues were not introduced while attempting to solve the employee preemptive rights issue.

3. Use and control of chops

In Taiwan companies and individuals often use chops instead of signatures. A chop is a stamp or seal that has the same legal effect as a signature. A Taiwan company will have at least one set of chops consisting of the registered chops of the company and its responsible person. These chops can be used to legally bind the Taiwan company, and therefore, their use and control are of great importance. We recommend that at the very least the operative agreement contain basic provisions addressing the custody and permitted use of the company’s and its responsible person’s chops. For larger enterprises with multiple sets of special-purpose chops, we recommend drafting more complete chop control procedures which can be included in the operative agreement as an exhibit.

4. Protection of intellectual property

Often the foreign counterparty is contributing some form of intellectual property right(s) to the Taiwan venture. In such cases, we recommend that the effectiveness of the operative agreement should be made contingent upon the signing of an appropriate intellectual property license agreement which includes, at a minimum, standard confidentiality, non-compete, and non-solicitation clauses. If the foreign counterparty’s intellectual property is of particular value, we often recommend (i) placing an additional affirmative duty on the local Taiwan party(ies) to take reasonable measures to police the local market for infringement of the foreign counterparty’s and/or the Taiwan venture’s intellectual property rights and (ii) making the local Taiwan party(ies) liable for any such infringement of which they were, or should have been, aware but failed to report in a timely fashion.

5. Specification of legal damages

In Taiwan, like many other jurisdictions, liquidated damages are legally permissible. Unlike many other jurisdictions, contractual punitive damages are also permissible in Taiwan. This creates interesting possibilities to erect significant disincentives to potential future bad behavior. While acknowledging that overly liberal use of punitive damage provisions has the potential to sour the relationship between joint venture partners even before the operative agreement is signed, we often recommend strategic use of such provisions particularly in conjunction with the protection of intellectual property rights of a foreign counterparty.

The list set out above represent issues that we see on a routine basis. However, this list is by no means exhaustive. We highly recommend having a lawyer review all agreements to be signed in connection with a foreign joint venture or other form of joint equity investment in Taiwan.

For more information, please contact Greg Buxton at gbuxton@winklerpartners.com.

Exploring statistics at the Taiwan Intellectual Property Court: part II litigation

After taking a look at the caseload of Taiwan’s Intellectual Property Court (“IP Court”) in part one, we now focus on the number of litigation cases and trends over time.

Number of litigation cases closed

“Closed case” means a case decided at the IP Court, regardless of whether the decided case was subsequently appealed or not. The trend of closed litigation cases is similar to the number of all cases closed which we looked at in Part 1. The peak number was 1178 cases in 2011, after that, the number of cases gradually decreased to 862 cases in 2019. The number of closed litigation cases has never exceeded 1000 from 2012 onward.

Number of closed litigation cases from 2008 to 2019

Source:Judicial Yuan

Proportion of copyright, patent, and trademark litigation cases

The statistics show that patent and trademark litigation cases are the majority of all litigation cases handled and since 2014 have accounted for approximately 35% of cases each year. As for copyright litigation, the proportion has remained between 20% and 30%. Except for these three major categories, the proportion of other litigation, such as those involving trade secrets, shows an upward trend from 7% in 2008 to 13% to 2019.

Proportion of closed copyright, patent, and trademark litigation cases from 2008 to 2019

Number of copyright, patent and trademark litigation cases handled

Copyright litigation

The number of closed copyright litigation cases has remained roughly the same. Since 2009 when the IP Court was in full swing, there have been 190 to 240 cases every year, except for in 2017 where there were 157 cases. The peak was 238 cases in 2010. The number of closed copyright litigation cases has increased for three consecutive years, with 210 cases in 2019.

Number of closed copyright litigation cases from 2008 to 2019

Source:Judicial Yuan

In terms of whether the litigation was civil, criminal or administrative in nature, we find that the majority are criminal cases. In 2008 and 2009, criminal cases accounted for 72% and 66% of all cases respectively.

The proportion of civil litigation cases surpassed those of criminal cases in 2014 for the first time, and has been increasing since then. In the last three years, civil litigation cases have accounted for more than 60% of all copyright litigation cases, peaking in 2019 at 78%. It is clear that the mode of solving copyright disputes in Taiwan has transferred from criminal prosecution by the state to civil litigation between private entities.

The proportion of administrative litigation is comparatively low, except for 2013, 2016 and 2018, never having been higher than 5%.

Proportion of closed criminal, civil, and administrative copyright litigation cases from 2008 to 2019


Patent litigation

The number of patent litigation cases solved has shown a downward trend since the highest period from 2010 to 2011, with 476 and 462 cases. Although there were years with more than 300 cases between 2012 and 2015, the number has never exceeded 300 since 2016. There were 267 patent litigation decided in 2019.

Number of patent litigation cases closed from 2008 to 2019

Source: Judicial Yuan

Only civil and administrative cases are included since there is no criminal liability under Taiwan’s Patent Act. Apart from 2008 where there was a higher proportion of administrative litigation, patent litigation was roughly 60% civil, 40% administrative.

Proportion of closed civil and administrative patent litigation cases from 2008 to 2019


Trademark litigation

The number of trademark litigation cases was comparatively high between 2009 and 2011, with a peak of 390 cases in 2009. There has been a downward trend until 2007 with 248 cases, but the numbers have risen in the last two years. The number of trademark litigation cases handled was 279 in 2019.

Number of closed trademark litigation cases from 2008 to 2019

Source:Judicial Yuan

Administrative litigation has always been the primary type of trademark litigation, accounting for more than half among all trademark litigation every year. It appears to be a decreasing trend in recent years, even though administrative litigation still accounts for 53%, its lowest point reached in 2019. The proportion of criminal litigation has gradually reduced from 25% in 2008 to 13% in 2009. The proportion of reduced criminal and administrative litigation has been replaced by civil litigation, whose proportion has doubled from 17% in 2009 to 34% in 2019. Overall, administrative litigation accounts for the largest volume of cases, while criminal litigation accounts for the smallest.

Proportion of closed criminal, civil, and administrative trademark litigation cases from 2008 to 2019


By looking at these statistics, we now know more about the quantity and type of litigation cases at the IP Court. The proportion of criminal, civil and administrative litigation cases provides interesting insights into each type of litigation. In the next part, we will focus on civil litigation and further explore statistics regarding the success rate, settlement rate and claims awarded.

For more information on IP matters in Taiwan, please contact Gary Kuo at gkuo@winklerpartners.com.

This article was co-written by trainee lawyer Yi-kai Chen.

*Sources: (1) Judicial Yuan (2) IP Court (3) DATA.GOV.TW.

*Note: Some of the figures provided in this report are calculated using raw data and may differ from those figures officially reported.

An update on Taiwan’s regulatory fintech sandbox

The regulatory sandbox was set up in Taiwan two years ago. The Financial Supervisory Committee (FSC) announced that since then, there have been 13 applications with seven of them permitted to start their business under the regulatory sandbox framework.

Two of the seven permitted applications have accomplished their set targets, and therefore, have already “graduated” from the regulatory sandbox. These applications are the KGI Bank’s implementation of an online personal unsecured loan service based on cell phone bill payment records; and Fubon Bank’s interbank transfer and payment system based on blockchain technology. The FSC is considering modifying the regulations based on the result of KGI Bank’s application. Once the regulations have been amended, the business model for KGI Bank’s online personal unsecured loan service may be adopted by other banks.

The FSC has stated that Fubon Bank will probably begin a new sandbox application extending its blockchain technology for international bank transfers. It’s expected that the current regulations for inter-bank or international transfers will not be amended before the filing of the second round of Fubon Bank’s regulatory sandbox application.

The trial operation of innovative financial services is becoming more popular in the financial sector. Those with bank licenses, or those already cooperating with banks, are finding it easier to test out new ventures, which are not in conflict with current regulations, through this channel.

These developments are good news for companies that are looking to take part in Taiwan’s push for innovation and growth. If you or your company would like to know more about the regulatory sandbox or the trial operation for financial sector businesses, you can take a look at our earlier overview here.

If you have specific questions about whether your business qualifies for the sandbox and how to apply, please contact Christine Chen at cchen@winkerpartners.com.

Exploring statistics at the Taiwan Intellectual Property Court: part I overview

Since its inception in 2008, the Intellectual Property Court (“IP Court”) has heard thousands of civil, criminal and administrative actions concerning Intellectual Property Rights (“IPR”). In part one of this report, we examine statistical data from multiple sources*, shedding light on the operations of the IP Court over the past twelve years.

The IP Court

The IP Court was established on 1 July 2008 as Taiwan’s first specialized court with the aim of improving IP law enforcement, the protection of IP rights, and promoting national economic development.

The IP Court exclusively hears IPR cases, mostly relating to the Copyright, Patent, Trademark and Trade Secret Acts. In terms of jurisdiction, the IP Court is the court of first and second instance for civil actions, the court of second instance for criminal actions (i.e. appeals against District Court decisions in the first instance), and the court of first instance for administrative actions.

Number of judges and amount of cases

There are currently 14 judges at the IP Court, including 8 male and 6 female judges. The number of judges has almost doubled from the original 8 presiding at the establishment of the IP Court. The proportion of female judges has gradually increased over the years, with female judges outnumbering male judges from 2014-2016.

Number of judges from 2008 to 2019

Source: Judicial Yuan

Numbers of cases closed by each judge per month

As of March 2020, a total of 16,208 cases, litigation and non-litigation, have been lodged with the IP Court. Of these, the IP Court has closed 15,717 cases. Since 2009, when the IP Court was in full swing, an average of about 2,000 cases have been lodged every year. The peak number was 2,380 cases in 2010. The number of cases gradually decreased from 2010 to 2017, but has again increased in the past two years. Please note that the number of cases lodged in particular year include cases previously lodged but not closed as well as newly lodged cases.

The IP Court closes approximately 70% of cases lodged per year.

We now turn to the average number of cases handled by each IP Court judge per month. In 2009 and 2010, due to the large number of cases and comparatively lower number of judges, the burden on each judge was as heavy as 17 to 20 cases to be closed per month. But after 2011, with the general decrease in the number of cases and increase in the number of judges, the average number of cases per judge went down to 7 to 8 cases per month. There has been an upward trend in the number of cases per judge in the past two years.

Number of cases and average number of cases closed by each judge per month from 2008 to 2019

Source: Judicial Yuan

Proportion of civil, criminal and administrative cases handled

The IP Court hears civil and administrative IPR cases, as well as appeals in criminal IPR cases. Statistics on closed cases show that by proportion, most cases heard by the IP Court are civil suits. From 2008 to 2019, the proportion of civil cases has gradually risen from 41% to 63%. The remaining cases are split equally between criminal appeal cases and administrative cases, with about 20% each in recent years.

Proportion of civil, criminal and administrative cases closed from 2008 to 2019

Source: Judicial Yuan

Average number of days to close a case

The average number of days for a case before the IP Court from lodging to closing gradually increased from 114.87 days in 2009 to 209.14 in 2015, the highest on record. From 2016 to 2018 the average time to a decision was about 200 days, but this dropped to 182.45 days in 2019.

Average number of days to close a case from 2008 to 2019

Source: Judicial Yuan

Comparing the time required to disposition of civil, criminal and administrative cases before the IP Court, it is clear that civil cases are the most time consuming. Since the establishment of the IP Court, the number of days to disposition for a civil case has continuously gone up, peaking in 2015 at 267.68 days. From 2016 to 2019, the IP Court has steadily reduced the length of time it takes for a case to be closed. In 2019, the number of days to disposition of a civil case fell below 200 days.

As for criminal cases, the number of days to disposition has slowly increased from 88.96 days in 2009 to 142.43 days in 2019. The trend for administrative cases is similar, from 130.27 days in 2009 to 190.87 days in 2019.

Overall, criminal cases take the fewest days to a decision, while civil cases take the most. But in the last two years, the number of days to disposition for administrative cases has exceeded or equaled that for civil cases.

Average number of days to close a case from 2008 to 2019

Source: Judicial Yuan

The above statistics provide some interesting insights into the general operations of Taiwan IP Court. We will have a closer look at IP litigation statistics in part two of this report.

For more information on IP matters in Taiwan, please contact Gary Kuo at gkuo@winkerpartners.com.

This article was co-written by trainee lawyer Yi-kai Chen.

*Sources: (1) Judicial Yuan (2) IP Court (3) DATA.GOV.TW.

*Note: Some of the figures provided in this report are calculated using raw data  and may differ from those figures officially reported.

2019 Environmental Report

Since our founding, Winkler Partners has aimed to reduce our negative impact on the natural environment, while looking for meaningful ways where we can create positive impact, both in our immediate community and further afield. In 2006, we established a Green Office Department, to coordinate office greening by implement methods to reduce our energy usage, promoting the use of environmentally friendly products and services, collecting rainwater, reducing our carbon emissions and advocating for green office initiatives throughout our community by way of open visits to our office and roof garden. As part of that commitment, we will be publishing annual reports on our progress. At a glance, in 2019 we managed to:

  • Reduced our total emissions by 70%. Our total emissions for 2019 were 13 tons CO2e.
  • Generated 12,545 kilowatt hours of electricity via our solar panels, accounting for 17% of our total electricity needs.
  • Purchased green energy credits covering the remaining 83% of our electricity. This means that 100% of our electricity is sustainably sourced.
  • Reduced gas usage by 30% and water usage by 16%. We collected 25 tons of rainwater, used to irrigate our gardens and flush our toilets.
  • Reduced overall waste by 12%, including paper cup and bento box waste by 27%. Paper use increased by 2%.
  • Offset our international travel emissions, which in 2019 were 62 tons. We do this through a fellow B Corporation, Climate Care.
  • Planted 3,555 trees, roughly the carbon capture equivalent of our 2018 emissions, or 42.7 tons.
Goals for 2020

Net Zero. At the end of 2019, we joined over 500 B Corporations around the world by publicly committing to net zero emissions by 2030, 20 years ahead of the goals set in the Paris Agreement. We plan to reach this goal even earlier, by 2020. To that end, we will be looking for meaningful ways to offset our remaining 13 tons of emissions. We will also continue to strengthen our in-house waste reduction policies and look into improved window insulation in our offices, which we hope will reduce the amount of air conditioning used. We also plan to review our existing Green Purchasing Policy, to ensure that the firm spends locally and sustainably. Finally, we will look to offset our historical emissions since our firm was founded in 2002.

Our full environmental report is available in English here and Chinese here. For inquiries regarding our energy saving initiatives, please contact City Shen at cshen@winkerpartners.com.

#Metoo Taiwan: how to handle sexual harassment cases at work

The #Metoo movement has increased people’s awareness of sexual harassment in the workplace. By law, companies have an obligation to create safe work environments and prevent sexual harassment from happening.

When employees report claims of sexual harassment, the objectives for the company are to a) determine whether sexual harassment occurred, b) protect the individual(s), and c) prevent it from happening again, all while maintaining a positive working environment. This sounds daunting, but can easily be accomplished by following some simple rules.

We list the following frequent asked questions and answers addressing issues which concern all employers.

What is sexual harassment in the workplace?

Taiwan’s laws define sexual harassment in the workplace into two categories:

1. Unequal targeting of an employee of one gender including pranks, jokes, yelling or other offensive conduct

This includes making sexual requests, using verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature or with the intent to discriminate based on gender, creating a hostile, intimidating, and offensive working environment that leads to a negative impact on the victim’s personal dignity or physical liberty; or affects job performance, education, training, services, plans, activities, or other normal habits.

2. Unequal treatment of an employee because of the employee’s gender, including unequal discipline

This includes instances where an employer explicitly or implicitly makes a sexual request toward an employee or a job applicant, uses verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature or with the intent to discriminate based on gender as an exchange for the establishment, continuance, modification of a labor contract or as a condition to their placement, assignment, compensation, evaluation, promotion, demotion, award and discipline.

Companies, local labor regulators and the courts will determine whether the behavior at issue constitutes sexual harassment based on the totality of the circumstances, including the facts of the incident, the work environment, the relationship between the parties, the accused’s testimony and conduct, and the victim’s perception of the incident.

How to prevent sexual harassment?

By law, companies have an obligation to prevent sexual harassment. Posting a sexual harassment policy in the workplace is one option.  Companies with more than 30 employees are statutorily required to announce and post a sexual harassment prevention, correction, complaint, and punishment policy.

In addition, employees should be given sufficient training on sexual harassment prevention and policies. If an employee has suffered or witnessed sexual harassment they should feel encouraged to document it and report it to the company. Fostering an open and transparent work environment can help ensure that employees feel safe and that their concerns are being listened to. Similarly, employees should be informed that the company will take necessary measures to combat harassment and that they risk punitive measures including the possibility that they will lose their job. Employees should also know that employers have an obligation to assist victims file complaints with the police. Sexual assault and other serious offenses carry criminal liability.

What should companies do when they receive a complaint?

Once the company becomes aware of a sexual harassment complaint, it is required to conduct an investigation and implement immediate and effective corrective and remedial measures. The measures include:

(i) trying by all available means to protect the victim’s rights and privacy;

(ii) strengthening maintenance and improvement of the safety and security of the workplace;

(iii) setting up a Sexual Harassment Grievance Committee (“Committee”) to investigate the complaint and make a decision within two months after the complaint is lodged (this can be extended for one more month if necessary); and

(iv) adopting other preventive and improvement measures.

Taiwan’s laws on sexual harassment at work do not have a statute of limitations for complaints. Any complaint should be addressed even though it might refer to conduct from several years ago.

How should the companies conduct an investigation and make a decision?

The key principle is to keep the matter highly confidential. Except for the victim(s) and the accused, the company should carefully select other employees as witnesses to sit in on any interviews held. In addition, all Committee members, the victim(s), the accused, and the interviewees should be informed that they have an obligation to keep all information and discussions confidential and private. Signing a non-disclosure statement would therefore be good practice. Interview records and/or meeting minutes are important documentation to serve as evidence if needed. After the investigation, the Committee should make a written decision including its grounds based on the findings of the investigation.

For confidentiality purposes, different versions of the decision can be prepared for the victim(s) and the accused. The company should give the victim(s) and the accused written notice of the conclusions of the investigation. Both the victims and the accused can file written appeals within a specific period (e.g. twenty days) from the date of receiving the decision if they are not satisfied with it. The Committee should then make a decision on whether to conclude the case or not. After this, no more complaints can be lodged with respect to the same incident.

Can companies terminate employees found to have conducted sexual harassment?

If through the investigation process it is found that the accused’s behavior constitutes sexual harassment, the company can terminate them as this constitutes a serious violation of the work rules. A termination on these grounds must be carried out within 30 days of the completion of an investigation. Advance notice and severance pay are not required in cases of sexual harassment.

Conclusion

Due to their unpleasant nature, sexual harassment complaints are not something many companies will want to deal with. Ignoring the problem however will not make it go away, and will likely make it worse. It is better for companies to be prepared before a claim is brought to their attention. We suggest companies review and check whether their current sexual harassment prevention policy is compliant with relevant laws, that all employees are aware of it, have access to it, and that related training is provided to all staff.

When sexual harassment complaints are raised, it is better for companies to consult with their legal team who will be able to advise on the process and the next steps, prepare necessary documents, review evidence, and even take part in the investigation. Doing so can help the company avoid violating the law and prevent potential legal disputes in the event that a sexual harassment complaint was handled incorrectly.

For more information on employment matters in Taiwan, contact Christine Chen at cchen@winklerpartners.com.

Partner Greg Buxton takes part in Covid-19 webinar

On Thursday, 30 April, partner Greg Buxton took part in a webinar titled “The New Economic Normal? Assessing the Immediate and Longer-term Prospects for Asian Economies Post COVID-19“, held in collaboration with our Interlaw partner firm in Singapore, CNPLaw. Partner Bill Jamieson of CNPLaw co-organized the webinar, inviting economist Manu Bhaskaran at Centennial Asia Advisors in Singapore to join them in discussing how Asia-Pacific economies are weathering the pandemic and what considerations they may face as governments and businesses look to opening back up.

A recording of the webinar is available here.

What should you know about food labeling in Taiwan?

When food and beverage products enter the Taiwanese market, is it advisable to use labeling in the original language only, or can you just translate it into traditional Chinese characters based on the original labeling content? Perhaps surprisingly, the answer to each of these questions is, in general, “No”.

This article will shed some light on the legal and linguistic issues involved in labeling items and using promotional claims for food and beverage products (“food products”) in Taiwan.

1. What the law says

The most important law dealing with the labeling of food products in Taiwan is the Act Governing Food Safety and Sanitation (the “Food Safety Act”). However, other laws and regulations may also be applicable depending on the nature of the products. For example, if a beverage contains more than 0.5% alcohol by volume (ABV), it will be classified as an alcoholic beverage, which means it will be governed by the Tobacco and Alcohol Administration Act.

2. What language should be used in labeling

In accordance with the Food Safety Act, labeling of food products should list all information in Chinese, written in traditional Chinese characters. Information can also be supplemented with additional text in English or other foreign languages.

To meet the language requirement, Taiwanese distributors of imported food products typically affix a separate sticker written in traditional Chinese characters in cases where the original packaging is not already localized for the Taiwan market.

Because Taiwanese distributors usually use a white sticker, some brands prefer to label their products themselves, and will discuss this with their Taiwanese distributors in advance. For instance, one well-known mineral water brand prefers to print its own translucent labels in order to maintain its brand aesthetic, and works with its Taiwanese distributor to ensure the labeling information complies with Taiwan law.

3. What information must be included on labels

3.1 General requirements

Compulsory labeling items for food products include: (i) the product name, (ii) a list of ingredients, (iii) net weight, volume, or quantity, (iv) a list of food additives, (v) information about the producer, or the local importer or distributor, (vi) the place of origin, (vii) the expiry date, (viii) nutritional information, (ix) a list of any genetically modified raw materials, and (x) any other information requested by the government.

Among these compulsory labeling items, please note that nutritional information must be included in the format requested by the Taiwan Food and Drug Administration (the “FDA”). The relevant categories are (i) calories, (ii) protein, (iii) fat, saturated fat, and unsaturated fat, (iv) carbohydrates and added sugar, (v) sodium, and (vi) other nutrients mentioned or declared in a claim on the product packaging. The quantities of the various categories can be written either as ratios expressed in terms of standard units (e.g. grams of sodium per 100 grams of the product) or as percentages based on the recommended intake of an average person per day in Taiwan.

Containers or packaging should not include claims or declarations regarding the nutrients contained in the products, unless: (a) claiming such nutrients is permissible, and (b) certain FDA standards are met. For example, declarations such as “low calorie” or “low energy” are not allowed unless the caloric value is lower than 20 kcal per 100 ml. Also, in order to claim that your product “contains Vitamin C”, the quantity of vitamin C should exceed 7.5 mg per 100 ml.

3.2 Specific requirements

The FDA has different labeling rules depending on the ingredients contained in a product. For example, prepackaged food products containing allergens should be clearly labelled with warnings on their containers or packaging. Prepackaged food products that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs) should display the words “genetically-modified” or “with genetic modification” on the products.

4. Misleading, exaggerated claims, or those implying medical efficacy

The Food Safety Act provides that claims or declarations on labeling, promotional material, or advertising material should not be false, misleading, or exaggerated, nor should they imply medical efficacy. Generally speaking, a claim related to maintaining or improving organ function, tissue function, physiology, or physical appearance would be deemed misleading or exaggerated, except for those specially permitted by the FDA under the relevant regulations. For instance, a claim that a product “strengthens the body’s immune system” may be deemed misleading or exaggerated by the FDA, as this claim references maintenance or improvement of human physiological function. However, such a claim could be replaced with a permissible claim that the product “enhances physical strength”. In any event, the question of whether labeling, promotional material, or advertising material might be false, exaggerated, or misleading will be assessed in its entirety on a case-by-case basis.

For more information on product labeling matters in Taiwan, please contact Ling-ying Hsu at lhsu@winklerpartners.com.

Covid-19 measures for Taiwan employees and the self-employed announced

In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Taiwan government has announced subsidy programs for impacted employees and the self-employed. This article was updated on 20 April to reflect newly announced subsidy programs available for self-employed workers.

Reassurance Employment Plan for employees

On 27 March 2020 the Taiwan government announced a Reassurance Employment Plan (安心就業計畫) aimed at countering the negative impact of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic on the Taiwanese job market. The measures, which apply retroactively to 15 January, include government subsidies for employees who have wages and working hours reduced due to a contraction in their employer’s business. Agreements reached between employees and their employer must be in writing, and include wage and hour reductions for a period of more than 30 days in order to qualify for the subsidy. Employees can apply for the subsidy at their local labor authority. Certain categories of foreign nationals, for example those with dependent ARCs or APRCs working in Taiwan, are eligible for this subsidy.

Employers may decide to report the agreement to the local labor regulator. However, even if the employer does not complete the report, the employee can notify the local labor regulator, who may review the agreement to confirm whether it meets the subsidy criteria. If so, the employees can then receive the subsidy.

The subsidy calculation formula is the average monthly insured salary (the maximum amount is NT$45,800) for the 12 month period prior to the effective date of the agreement minus the agreed monthly salary specified in the agreement (must be at least NT$23,800) multiplied by 50%. The maximum monthly subsidy amount is NT$11,000. Employees may receive the subsidy for at most 6 months. The program applies only to full and part-time employees that receive salary on a monthly basis (i.e. not hourly wage employees). As an example, if an employee is usually paid NT$45,800, and the agreed monthly salary in the agreement is NT$23,800, then the subsidy available will be NT$11,000= (45,800-23,800)*50%.

Subsidy program for the self-employed

On 20 April 2020, a subsidy program for the self-employed (including independent contractors) was officially announced. The subsidy is NT$10,000 per month. The self-employed may receive subsidies for up to 3 months. The self-employed are eligible to apply for the subsidy if the following conditions are met: (i) they hold Taiwan citizenship; (ii) they have enrolled in the labor insurance scheme through a professional union on or before 31 March 2020; (iii) their insured salary in March was NT$24,000 or less; (iv) their taxable income in 2018 was NT$408,000 or less; and (v)  they are ineligible to apply for other subsidies issued by government authorities (such as the ones offered by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications or the Ministry of Culture).

Eligible self-employed workers can submit an application form along with a copy of their bank passbook to their professional union.

For more information on employment matters in Taiwan, please contact Christine Chen at cchen@winklepartners.com.

Winkler Partners joins 75 Taiwan companies in announcing a climate emergency

For many years, Winkler Partners has taken action to reduce the negative impact on our environment. In 2004, we set up a Green Office, to track our emissions and coordinate initiatives to reduce our electricity consumption, reduce waste and look for other ways we can increase our positive impact. We aim to be a sustainable business that looks after our colleagues, clients and community, which we believe includes the natural environment. As we have seen, the changes happening to our climate around the world are accelerating at an unsustainable pace.

To date, we have done the following:

  • Reduced our energy consumption by 61% since 2004
  • Installed solar panels that generate approximately 20% of our electricity needs
  • Reduced our water consumption by 46% since 2005
  • Collected rainwater for irrigation and flushing our toilets
  • Offset the emissions generated by our international travel which account for over 50% of our total emissions
  • Reduced waste by 12% between 2018 and 2019 2018-2019
  • Reduced paper cup waste by 27% between 2018 and 2019
  • Reduced paper use by 11% between 2014 and 2018
  • Planted 3,555 trees, the carbon capture equivalent to our 2018 carbon footprint
  • Joined 1% for the Planet, donating 3% of our revenue each year to environmental groups
  • Joined over 500 B Corps around the world in committing to net zero emissions by 2030

Together with 75 other businesses from Taiwan, we’re announcing a climate emergency, to signal to our colleagues, clients and community stakeholders that we cannot wait. The planet cannot wait. It is imperative that businesses take the lead where governments have failed. Over the coming months, we plan to do the following:

  • Purchase clean energy credits, guaranteeing that 100% of our energy is generated from renewable sources
  • Explore meaningful ways to reduce our emissions even further
  • Reach net zero emissions by 2020, 30 years before the Paris Agreement deadline
  • Explore ways to meaningfully offset our historical emissions starting in 2002, when the firm was founded

While we are only one business, we encourage others anywhere to join similar movements where you are. In Taiwan, you can learn more about announcing a climate emergency here. You can also see what actions each business is taking to mitigate their impact on the environment.

 

Archives