Taiwan's new border measures to protect intellectual property rights

Taiwan's “Trademark Export Monitoring System” has been abolished since July 8, 2010. Therefore, applications for recordation of registered trademarks for export monitoring purposes are no longer accepted. However, for trademarks that have been recorded with the authorities, the border protection remains good until expiry of the recorded durational terms thereof.

Currently, the detention/seizure of imported/exported trademarked goods suspected of infringement in Taiwan is conducted according to the “Operational Directions for Customs Authorities in Implementing Measures for Protecting the Rights and Interests in Patent, Trademark and Copyright.” A trademark owner may, according to said directions, file with the customs a complaint accompanied by the required information/documents, including facts of infringement, certificate of trademark registration, name of the suspected importer/exporter, description of goods, port of import/export, date of import/export, flight/vessel number, container number, place of storage of the goods, etc. Once the complaint is accepted, the trademark owner will be notified and will need to show up at the customs office within a prescribed time (within 4 hours for export airfreight, and within 24 hours for import airfreight and for import/export seafreight) to verify the suspected counterfeit goods. The customs will detain the concerned goods if they are found to be counterfeits.

Furthermore, customs officials may conduct random goods inspection ex officio in accordance with said directions. If any imported/exported goods suspected of infringement are located, the customs will notify the concerned trademark owner or trademark agent, who must show up at the customs office to verify the concerned goods within one business day. Once the goods are verified to be counterfeits, the importer/exporter of the goods will be requested to provide relevant written authorizations or the like. In the absence of such documents, the goods will be detained by the customs, and the case will be transferred to the judicial authorities. On the other hand, if the trademark owner or trademark agent fails to show up for verification purposes within the prescribed time, the customs will release the goods after taking a sample.

In practice, the customs generally refuses to provide names of importers/exporters or other relevant information, and will decide whether or not to provide photographs of suspected counterfeit goods ex officio. Given that the prescribed time is only one business day, trademark owners must be mindful of notifications from the customs and are advised to immediately authorize their trademark agents, local distributors, local sales agents, etc., to go to the customs office to verify the goods suspected of infringement lest that such goods should be released by the customs.

The above contents are intended as general discussion of the subject matter only and shall not be deemed as legal advice to any particular case or issue.