Status of Non-traditional Trademarks in Taiwan

Since Taiwan's Trademark Office began to accept applications for non-traditional trademarks in late 2003, over 500 applications for such marks have been submitted.  Between late 2003 and the end of 2005, 375 3-D trademarks, 43 sound trademarks and 149 color trademarks were submitted for registration, totaling 567 applications.  Of these, 97 marks have been approved as non-functional and distinctive marks.  This total includes 65 3-D trademarks, 10 sound marks, and 22 color trademarks.  The rate of approval is about 17.11%.  The TIPO reports that most of the approved marks, and all of the approved color marks, established distinctiveness through extensive use and advertising in Taiwan prior to approval.

Taiwan Task Force for Raiding Pirated Goods Dissolved

The Taiwan Task Force for Raiding Pirated Goods, established March 13, 1981 to coordinate Prosecutors, Police, and Taiwan's equivalent of the FBI, was dissolved in early 2006.  It was determined that the functions of the Task Force are no longer necessary, and have been effectively replaced by other coordinating efforts, such as the Trans-Department Committee for Protection of Intellectual Property, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, The High Courts' Committee of Prosecutors for Investigating and Eliminating Piracy, and the Ministry of the Interior's Special Task Force. 

Legal Issues Regarding Protection of the Design of "Taipei 101"

As the tallest building in the world, Taipei 101, has quickly become the most famous attraction in Taiwan.  It frequently appears on TV shows, photographs, movies, music videos, and advertisements.  The Taipei Financial Center Corporation, which owns and operates building, announced in early 2006 that it has registered the design of the building as a 3-D architectural trademark in many classes.  The owner intends to prosecute anyone using the image of the building in commercial works unless the user obtained its approval and pays royalties.  Because of the high level of controversy generated by this announcement, the Taiwan Intellectual Property Office (TIPO) clarified the scope of the owner's rights as follows:

1. Infringement on the Trademark Right:

The TIPO stated that only trademark uses of the building design will incur liability, and only if the building owners maintain active use of the mark in all of their registered classes.  As examples of possible infringing uses, the TIPO gave a toy model of the building, and the image of the building for a real estate office.  However, as an example of a non-infringing reasonable use, the TIPO gave the appearance of the building in drawings or photographs of Taipei locations.  

2. Infringement of Copyright:

The TIPO also addressed the non-infringing reasonable uses of the building's design in works generally protected by copyright.  Taipei 101 is protected from imitation by the following means: 1) Reproduction of a building by construction of another building, 2) Reproduction of a work of sculpture by production of another sculpture, 3) Reproduction for the purpose of long-term public display in certain locales, 4) Reproduction of artistic works solely for the purpose of selling copies.  Except under these four circumstances, the TIPO advised the Taiwan public, a work of architecture displayed on a long-term basis outdoors and visible to the public may be reasonably utilized by anyone.  Therefore, using the shape of the 101 Building as a souvenir, in a photograph or on a post card or poster, or in the background of a movie, will not violate Taiwan's Copyright Law.

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