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What exactly is a Technical Examination Officer?

Technical Examination Officers (技術審查官, TEOs) were introduced into Taiwan’s Intellectual Property Court system to assist in cases where the technical expertise needed to make clear judgments exceeds the general knowledge of the court judges.

Due in large degree to the prominence of Taiwan’s technology industry, complicated patent applications and subsequent litigation mean that courts often struggle with detailed technical information. The TEO system was set up to ensure the courts run smoothly with as much technical information as possible. TEOs were in most cases previously employed as Patent Officers at Taiwan’s Intellectual Property Office (TIPO) and are required to have significant academic qualifications and a good record to be considered. There are currently thirteen TEOs working on cases at the Taiwan Intellectual Property Court, seven with machinery, civil engineering or design backgrounds; four with electronic, electrical or information backgrounds; and two with chemical or biotechnology backgrounds.

What is perhaps unusual about this system is the status of the officers. TEOs are employees of the court, rather than expert witnesses called by either party. They have significant relevant industry experience as opposed to legal backgrounds, and for that very reason are able to provide assistance to judges. TEOs are appointed to cases based on their relevant expertise. Borrowing from similar mechanisms in Japan and South Korea, Taiwan introduced TEOs under order of the presiding judge, to provide:

  • technical judgment
  • technical information
  • analysis and technical opinion as well as,
  • participate in the litigation process

As court employees, TEOs are instructed by the judge when necessary. They can provide technical expertise either orally or in written form. In the case of written reports, these are submitted to the judge for review and are not made public. TEOs are permitted to ask questions or request more information from both parties at the discretion and on approval of the judge. In a courtroom sitting, these requests may be made by the judge on behalf of the TEO. Judges use the technical information presented by the TEO to decide cases.

Between 2008 and 2012, TEOs participated in a total of 1,636 cases. 1,070 of those cases pertained to civil litigation, 550 were administrative litigation and sixteen cases were criminal litigation. The vast majority of cases concerned mechanical products (48% of cases); electrical or electronic products (26% of cases); and chemical products (8% of cases).

WP ranked as top-tier insurance firm by The Legal 500

For a third consecutive year, The Legal 500 Asia Pacific has ranked Winkler Partners’ practice a top tier firm for insurance. Led by partner Chen Hui-ling, our insurance practice focuses on reinsurance, D&O insurance, and dispute resolution with specialized expertise in arbitration. The Legal 500 also states that D&O insurance is a particular strength, and noted that we have recently advised on a case of insider trading by directors of a listed company.

Led by partner Peter Dernbach, our IP practice also came highly recommended, as we work with some of the leading global brands across a wide variety of sectors. Partner Gary Kuo was recognized for his ‘excellent reputation’ and securing many favorable judgments. Partner Christine Chen was recommended for her IP litigation and enforcement work.

The Legal 500 has been ranking law firms worldwide for 27 years, with a special attention to practice area teams who are providing the most cutting edge and innovative advice to corporate counsel. You can read the latest Legal 500 Asia Pacific rankings here.

WP awarded major contract

Winkler Partners Translation has been awarded a major capital markets translation project by a group of Taiwan regulators and exchanges. In this project, Winkler Partners expands its role, ongoing since 2001, as the primary translator of the authoritative English versions of Taiwanese capital market laws and regulations, which can be found at http://eng.selaw.com.tw/.

Registering your .taipei domain and protecting your brand online

In August, Taipei City Government reached an agreement with ICANN to release the .taipei domain and make it available to businesses and individuals. Spearheaded by Taipei’s Department of Information Technology (DOIT), the .taipei project follows a trend set by other world cities such as New York, London and Berlin, which, in recent years, have launched their own city-level domains. According to the organizers, the new domains are a good way to market goods and services to the local community; attach a geographic location to brand identity; highlight a business’ location in relation to competitors; and provide a boost to search engine optimization (SEO).

From December 1, holders of global trademarks registered with the Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH) will be given priority to register their new .taipei domains, following that in January 2015 Taipei-based companies and organizations will be able to register their .taipei addresses. General registrations won’t be permitted until March 31st.

Registrations will be processed in four waves:

Sunrise Period: December 1-31: Owners of trademarks registered with TMCH
Taipei Enterprise Sunrise Period
: January 21-February 19: Entities registered in Taipei City or New Taipei City only
Landrush Period
: February 24-March 26: First come, first served
Open Registration: March 31 onwards

*For detailed period policies please click the respective link

Domains registered in the Sunrise Period will cost a total of NT$4800 (approximately US$155) for three years. Taipei Enterprise fees will be NT$1920 for three years, while registrations made in the Open Registration Period will cost NT$800 for one year, according to information provided by Net Chinese (in Chinese), the domain registrar handling the .taipei project. Trademark holders wishing to register during the Sunrise Period can only register domains that exactly match the trademark listed with TMCH. During the Taipei Enterprise period, both full and partial matches are permitted.

The priority given to trademark holders allows for the protection of these marks online, and prevents domain squatting, a practice that can seriously damage a brand’s online identity and reputation, and can cause confusion amongst consumers. WP’s Daniel Chen, who has worked on many domain dispute cases for our international clients says, “We advise our clients, and indeed all trademark holders, to register their respective domains early to avoid the often lengthy and costly process of obtaining a suspension and/or transfer of domains registered by squatters”.

Additionally, Partner Peter Dernbach is active in the ICANN community as a member of the IP Constituency, currently serving as a member of the PDP Working Group on Translation/Transliteration of Contact Information. Peter also serves as a Panelist for WIPO’s Arbitration and Mediation Center, and has helped resolve numerous domain name disputes under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP).

Businesses interested in registering a .taipei address should visit the .taipei project website for more information, or contact Net Chinese.

Food Safety: A Legal Perspective

WP partners Peter Dernbach, Gary Kuo and paralegal Michael Fahey recently contributed an article to the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei (AmCham)’s monthly TOPICS magazine. The article takes a look at the recent set of food scandals that have shaken the public’s faith in Taiwan’s food industry, examining it from a legal perspective.

The article summarizes previous food scandals that have occurred in Taiwan, dating back to the bran oil tragedy in 1979, which claimed the lives of over fifty people and caused significant physical harm to many others.

The article goes on to analyze the key litigation following the 2011 plasticizer scandal and the 2013 olive oil scandal. Peter and Gary explain the successful criminal prosecutions in both cases, the failure of a class action in the olive oil case, and the constitutional issues that led the Ministry of Health and Welfare to roll back massive fines imposed by local governments.

The article concludes that while Taiwan has made significant and admirable strides in its legal system since the 1979 bran oil tragedy, it will need to do much more to ensure that the country’s vibrant culinary culture and consumer health are adequately protected.

The entire article is available on AmCham’s website.

WP’s Michael Fahey speaks on recent immigration liberalization in Taiwan

As part of our pro bono support for Forward Taiwan, a grass roots movement for immigration reform in Taiwan, Winkler Partners’ Michael Fahey spoke at the National Immigration Agency’s 2014 International Conference on Immigration Policy. The purpose of the presentation was to describe recent government liberalization and to evaluate them quantitatively and qualitatively. Forward Taiwan’s proposals for immigration reform were also introduced.

Michael summarized the main issues that have led to immigration reform in the past, from the creation of permanent residence in 1999, to the recent relaxation of rules including those for financial health and criminal records. These relaxations have in part led to a steady increase in the number of permanent residents in Taiwan, from 1649 in 2005, to 10,811 as of September 2014.

One of Forward Taiwan’s main policies is to encourage the Taiwanese government to make it easier for foreign students and professionals already studying or working in Taiwan to stay and contribute to society. Foreign students are now given a six month extension to look for work after graduation for example, whilst the same is given to professionals to change employment. This has resulted in an increase of 343 professional and 525 student ARC (alien resident certificate) extensions since April of this year. While these figures are modest, they are a step in the right direction if Taiwan is to attract and keep foreign talent.

An even more recent development has been the new points system set out in regulations implementing the Employment Service Act. The points system allows foreign graduates of Taiwanese universities to obtain work authorization if they can score 70 points for various criteria. Points are given for university degrees, reputable universities, Chinese and foreign language, following government policy and even residence abroad. The significance of the new points system is that it is now possible for foreign graduates of Taiwanese universities to work and reside in Taiwan without having to meet minimum salary requirements.

Nearly 260 foreign graduates have been granted work authorization under the points system since it was announced in July of this year.

The presentation that accompanies Michael’s talk can be viewed here.

WP seeks new IP associate

Winkler Partners, an integrated partnership of Taiwanese and foreign lawyers, is planning to hire a new intellectual property associate who is passionate about law, with interests in intellectual property. We are looking for a colleague with a background in general trademark and patent law and practice. You can read more about our practice here and our community programs here.

Initially, your primary role would be to work with our Taiwanese and foreign colleagues in providing professional legal opinions to Taiwanese and foreign clients. You would be asked to research and learn intellectual property laws in Taiwan as well as help colleagues understand the clients’ legal needs and questions. You would likely also participate in Taiwanese and international business development and educational activities. While all colleagues are expected to engage in the development of every aspect of the firm, including case work, work environment improvement, and community support programs, your position would focus primarily on performing intellectual property case work.

The successful candidate will likely: (i) have relevant work experience (preferably three or more years); (ii) have a great command of both Chinese and English (iii) enjoy and value the importance of teamwork; and (iv) enjoy communicating. If you are interested in this position, please send your resume and relevant materials by email to personnel@winklerpartners.com.

WP Partner Peter Dernbach elected to INTA Board of Directors

We are pleased to announce that Peter Dernbach, head of our IP practice, has been elected to join the International Trademark Association (INTA)’s Board of Directors. Peter will serve on the board until December 2017.

For many years Peter has been an active member of the INTA community, having contributed to INTA publications, and spoken and moderated at INTA meetings. Peter has served on several committees, including the East Asia and Pacific Subcommittee of the Famous and Well-known Marks Committee. He is currently the vice-chair of the Programs Committee. Peter has been frequently recognized for his work on trademarks, domain names, and brand protection by leading trade publications, most recently in 2014 by Chambers Asia-Pacific.

Peter will be joining some of the leading brand owners and professionals in the world to further INTA’s goal of supporting trademarks and related intellectual property rights in order to protect consumers and to promote fair and effective commerce. We look forward to working with our INTA colleagues in achieving these goals.

INTA is the world’s leading trademark association, having been established in 1878. Currently there are over 30,000 members worldwide, collectively contributing US$12 trillion in value to the world’s GDP each year. You can learn more about INTA and their work here.

Paul Cox keynotes at the 2014 Workshop on Translation Testing and Translation Practice

Paul Cox, head of Winkler Partners’ translation department, was a keynote speaker at the 2014 Workshop on Translation Testing and Translation Practice (翻譯考試與翻譯實務工作坊) hosted jointly by the Taiwan Association of Translation and Interpretation, National Taiwan Normal University, and the Language Testing & Training Center on 20 September 2014. Paul spoke on the topic of “Chinese-English Translation: Approaches and Resources (Preparing for the Chinese-English Translation Competency Examination)”.

A video of Paul’s talk can be viewed below.
Paul Cox – Chinese-English Translation: Approaches and Resources

Paul is also the author of  Online Sources of English Translations of Taiwanese Law and edits our ongoing series of Taiwan law translations.

WP hosts Singapore Management University School of Law

Recently we were visited by a group of law students from Singapore Management University’s School of Law. Founding Partner Robin Winkler introduced the firm’s areas of practice and gave the students a tour of our offices, including the roof garden.

Here are some photos from the tour.

We wish the students from SMU all the best in their studies and future legal careers.

 

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