Patent Law in Taiwan

With an office in Taipei, the international law firm Wang & Wang is able to assist clients with the procurement and enforcement of patents in Taiwan.  Inventors, or their assignees or successors, can apply for registration of invention, new utility model, and new design patents in Taiwan.  Generally, Taiwan grants patent protection to foreign nationals on a reciprocal basis.  U.S. nationals are eligible for patent registration in Taiwan.  In addition, U.S. and World Trade Organization  ("WTO") member state nationals may claim priority in accordance with Taiwan's Patent Law.

Registration Procedure

A patent application must be filed with Taiwan's Intellectual Property Office ("TIPO").  Generally, TIPO renders a decision within six months to one year after it receives all supporting documents.  If the application is approved, the patent will be published and registered after the applicant pays the certificate fees and first annual fees within three months upon receiving the approval notice.

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Term of Protection

Patent rights commence from the date of publication in the Patent Gazette.  The term varies depending on the type of patent, for example:

  • Invention Patent - 20 years from the filing date
  • New Utility Model Patent - 10 years from the filing date
  • New Design Patent - 12 years from the filing date

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Types of Patents

In Taiwan, industrial property rights include three types of patents:

  • Invention Patent - inventions that show "novelty" and are not obvious, that have been developed to the point that they can be utilized in industry
  • New Utility Model Patent - creations or improvements relating to the form, construction, or fitting of an object (in general, technical requirements are not as high as those for an invention patent)
  • New Design Patent - original visual designs relating to the shape, pattern, color, or a combination thereof of an object

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Conditions Barring Patentability

If any of the following conditions applies, a patent registration will be denied:

Inventions and New Utility Models

  • Before filing, an invention or a new utility model has been disclosed on a publication or put to public use anywhere in the world, or has been known by the public, except where such disclosure, use or status is arising out of one of the following circumstances, and the invention or new utility model patent application was made within six months after such circumstance occurs:
  • Due to research or experiment;
  • Due to display on an exhibition sponsored or approved by the government;
  • Due to the disclosure not made against the applicant's will.
  • A patent has already been granted to the same invention or new utility model, and that application was filed earlier than the current application, except that the applicant of the prior patent is the same applicant of the current application.
  • An invention or a new utility model simply utilizes conventional technology or knowledge known prior to applying for patent, and can be easily accomplished by persons skilled in the art.

New Designs

  • Before filing for patent registration, the same or similar design has been disclosed on a publication put to public use anywhere in the world, or has been known by the public, except where such disclosure, use or status is arising out of one of the following circumstances, and the new design patent has been applied within six months after such circumstance occurs:
  • Due to display on an exhibition sponsored or approved by the government;
  • Due to the disclosure not made against the applicant's will.
  • A patent has been previously granted for the same or a similar new design, which was filed earlier than the current application.
  • Any design obvious to people familiar with the relevant field.

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Unpatentable Items

The following items are unpatentable in Taiwan:

  • Animals, plants, and biological methods that produce animals or plants, not including microbiological produce methods
  • Diagnostic, therapeutic, or surgical methods for treating diseases of the human body or animal body
  • An article that is detrimental to public order, morality, or public health
  • A new utility model that does not belong to the form, construction, or fitting of an object
  • An article the shape or the design of which is identical or similar to the party, national, or military flag, the national emblem, the government medal, a portrait of the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, or an official seal
  • An article the shape of which is purely functional (new design only)
  • An article that is purely an artistic creation or artistic work
  • An article that is an integrated circuit layout or electronic circuit layout may not be the subject of a New Design Patent, although it can be protected by the IC Layout Law, and invention or Utility Model patents

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Actions to Prevent or Revoke Registration of Patents

Cancellation actions may be filed after a patent has been granted registration, usually on the grounds that the approved patent is not novel or is similar to a registered patent.  Cancellation is barred if an identical argument was previously the subject of an unsuccessful opposition action against the subject patent.

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Paths of Appeal

In the event that the TIPO returns an unfavorable decision on an application or cancellation action, the following paths of appeal are open:

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