The “National Intellectual Property Strategy Program” was announced by the Taiwan government in November 2011 in an effort to promote and raise the intellectual property capability of Taiwanese firms. As policy adviser to the Ministry of Economic Affairs in drafting the “National Intellectual Property Strategy Program,” the Science and Technology Institute under the Institute for Information Industry (STLI) conducted a survey in 2012 in order to gain a broad overview of the level of IP awareness and IP management and use among Taiwanese firms.
The survey was distributed to 1,384 firms that are listed either on the Taiwan Stock Exchange or the Gre Tai Securities Markets. 281 companies responded to the survey, achieving a survey response rate of almost 20%. The content of the survey was divided into three parts: IP knowledge and understanding, current IP management within the companies and IP issues that companies face.
Intellectual property has become a commonplace asset owned by firms. The growing significance of intellectual property to companies in general is undeniable, and firms are recognizing this as well. An overwhelming 93% of the respondents claim to own some form of intellectual property. The most common type of intellectual property owned by companies is trademarks, followed by patents and trade secret. Many companies are also actively seeking to obtain more intellectual property. Over 68% of the respondents indicated that they have submitted applications for formal intellectual property rights in the past two years. 84% of the respondents agreed with the statement that they believe intellectual property can bring added value for the firm. In addition, over 78% of the respondents also believe that intellectual property helps enhancing the company’s market position. It is clear that the majority of Taiwan firms already consider intellectual property to be a vital asset for their business and that building up and expanding their IP portfolio has become a top priority.
This is also reflected in the annual spending that firms allocate for intellectual property. The survey respondents were asked whether a specific budget is allocated toward spending related to intellectual property every year, and the majority of the respondents, almost 70%, responded in the positive. Particularly, the respondents pointed out that they commit the most resources to obtaining and maintaining intellectual property rights every year. 10% of the respondents even indicated that they spent over NT$5 million annually on obtaining and maintaining intellectual property rights. The respondents were also asked about spending on inventor incentive, IP personnel, IP disputes and litigations and staff IP training. The results showed that companies commit the least spending on providing IP training for staff, with more than half of the respondents noting that they spend less than NT$500,000 on IP training each year and only 14% of the respondents noted that they will increase spending on IP training the following year.
As noted above, Taiwan firms are actively seeking to obtain more intellectual property and building up their IP assets. With almost 70% of the respondents noting that they have applied for intellectual property rights in the last two years shows that companies are generating quite a lot intellectual property, but whether all the intellectual property generated is being exploited and creating commercial and economic benefits remains doubtful. Most of the firms, almost 86% of the respondents, acquired their intellectual property through their own research and development (R&D). In contrast, the proportion of firms using other means of acquiring intellectual property is quite low, with only 17% of the respondents acquiring intellectual property through acquisition and 28% through licensing, while 41% percent of the respondents acquired their intellectual property by joint research or contracted research with others. With R&D being the major source of intellectual property for firms, firms are clearly putting in a lot of investment into acquiring intellectual property. However, the returns on these investments may not be proportionate. When asked whether the firm license out their intellectual property, only 13.5% of the respondents claimed to be doing so. This suggests that most Taiwanese firms are not using their intellectual property to generate revenue and commercial value. Instead, intellectual property is still mostly regarded and used as merely a defensive tool against infringement.
Companies in Taiwan are also facing increasing risks of being involved in IP-related disputes and litigations. More than 30% of the respondents have already been involved in some kind of IP-related disputes and litigations in the past. The most common type of litigations faced by Taiwanese companies are patent infringement, followed by trademarks infringement, piracy and counterfeit, and disputes with (former) employees. Furthermore, more than 50% of the firms that have been involved in IP litigations noted that patent infringement and trademarks infringement pose the most detriment to the company’s business operations in general. It is evident that intellectual property has become a competitive weapon in businesses, and IP disputes and litigations are inevitable threats that most firms must face in today’s business world. Hence, it is essential for firms to have the necessary strategies and protection in place in order to minimize the risks created by potential legal disputes. With this in mind, it is worrisome to observe that most firms have not incorporated intellectual property into the company risk management program. Nearly 86.1% of the respondents claim to have some kind of risk management program in place within the company, but when asked what is included in the risk management program. Only 40.7% of the firms with risk management programs said that intellectual property is included, which is considerably lower than other types of risks generally seen in risk management programs. With IP disputes and litigations becoming an increasing threat that may bring negative impact for businesses, Taiwanese firms need to incorporate and strengthen IP risk management within the company.
With intellectual property being an important asset, firms should also have the necessary infrastructure and resources to manage IP accordingly and integrate IP into the company’s overall business operations. However, more than 50% of the respondents do not have designated personnel or department that is specifically responsible for managing the company’s intellectual property. Nearly 33% of the respondents indicated that the responsibility for managing IP is shared by other departments within the firm. When further asked about the tasks of the designated personnel or department that is responsible for IP, it is observed that the designated personnel/department mostly undertake routine tasks such as filing for patent applications and trademark registrations and maintaining relevant databases. Tasks such as patent mapping and competitive landscape analysis are the least performed tasks. The proportion of designated personnel/department for IP that are involved in the company’s business and research strategic decision making process is also quite low. This suggests that despite the importance of IP to firms, many Taiwanese firms still have not integrated IP into their overall research and business strategies and utilize their intellectual property as a strategic tool in their business operations.
In order to gauge the level of IP knowledge and understanding in Taiwanese firms, the survey also contained 10 very basic questions on intellectual property. Surprisingly, the respondents that answered all the questions correctly were less than 4%. The proportion of respondents that correctly answered 5 or less questions did not even reach 50%. This means that Taiwanese firms still lack fundamental IP knowledge and understanding in general. This is also reflected in the response to the question whether the company has an overall IP policy in place, which also serves as an indication of the level awareness and concern with intellectual property within the firm. An IP policy that is distributed to company staff means that IP awareness is promoted within the company. However, almost 40% of the respondents claimed that there is no overall IP policy within the company, and nearly 30% of the respondents noted that even if there is an IP policy, it is not made widely known to company staff. This reveals that many Taiwanese companies still need to undertake more IP awareness promotion within the firm. More IP awareness promotion is also justified by the results to the question as to whether the company provides IP training for company staff. The results showed that almost 44% of the respondents do not provide any form of training in IP to company staff at all. This also corresponds to the result noted earlier that most respondents commit the least funding to providing IP training each year. Providing regular IP training to staff is certainly still not the norm for most Taiwanese firms.
Taiwanese firms still faces many difficulties and challenges in their intellectual property management and hope that the government could provide them with the assistance and resources needed to help them enhance their intellectual property capacity and capability. Some of the major difficulties that the respondents pointed out in the survey include the lack of IP experts and professionals. It is difficult for firms to find and hire people with adequate professional IP skills, as the education and training currently provided by universities and professional schools do not seem to meet the actual IP needs of companies. Another major difficulty faced by Taiwanese firms is the lack of information and knowledge regarding international technical standards and standard setting organizations. A significant portion of the respondents expressed the wish for the government to help them gain entry and participation in international standard setting organizations. Among the other difficulties, the regulatory complexity and lack of clarity with the ownership of intellectual property arising from government-contracted research, which poses as barrier for firms in obtaining licenses for use and exploitation, is also an issue that the majority of the respondents hope the government could improve.
In addition to the difficulties mentioned above that Taiwanese firms hope the government would help them encounter, the respondents were also asked specifically what other resources and assistance they would like to seek from the government. 69.4% of the respondents hope that the government could provide more training courses and seminars on IP. Many respondents are also seeking a common platform that can unify all resources that could help enhance IP management. Expert assistance and consultation on obtaining intellectual property rights and providing information on international IP protection and litigation are also resources that Taiwanese firms desire. More than 50% of the respondents also indicated that they would like to receive assistance in establishing IP management system within their firms.
The results of the survey provided insight into the level of IP management among companies in Taiwan. Although the importance of intellectual property for businesses is undeniable and widely recognized by firms, the results of the survey revealed that there is still much room for improvement and for Taiwanese firms to put in more efforts into strengthening and enhancing their IP capabilities. In general, Taiwanese firms have not incorporated their intellectual property into their management strategies and derived adequate value. Intellectual property remains mostly a defensive tool against infringement. Furthermore, there is still need for greater promotion of IP awareness among firms and within firms.
With these IP management difficulties and deficiencies in mind, it should be noted that the respondents of this survey are all listed companies that are already of a certain size and scale and should have greater resources in their disposal to commit to their IP management. It would be reasonable to assume that small and medium firms, with significantly less resources, would face even more difficulties and challenges. Using this survey results as reference, the “National Intellectual Property Strategy Survey” would seek to help Taiwanese companies address these IP issues and provide adequate assistance and resources in overcoming the challenges Taiwanese companies face with their IP management. It is also hoped that this survey would be carried out regularly in the future, and that the survey results from 2012 would serve as a baseline for future surveys that will assist in observing the progress Taiwanese businesses are making in IP management and provide a whole picture of the level of IP awareness and management within Taiwanese firms.
A Preliminary Study on The Legal Effect of the Blockchain-Generated Data in Taiwan I. Preface Governments around the world have set various regulations and guidelines to deal with the increasing application of blockchain technology, trying to keep the law up to date with technological development and the latest trends. Among them, the application of blockchain technology to regulations has become a hot topic. Because of its features, such as immutable, easy to verify and transparently disclosed, it can improve the efficiency of law enforcement and reduce cost. Moreover, decentralization and the verification mechanism generated by mathematical computation can avoid the disputes arising from the existing system, in which the mechanism is set up and controlled by independent institutions, and thus the credibility could be universal. The international trend also shows the importance attached to the application of blockchain technology in the legal field. In 2017, the “Legal Services Innovation Index”, a study conducted by the Michigan State University College of Law and Google evaluated the level of innovation of law firms according to the search data on innovation indicators of the world’s major law firms. Blockchain has the highest number of clicks among all indices, and the average number of clicks of blockchain is more than twice that of AI. In addition, there are international cases regarding the connection between the blockchain technology and legal provisions as well as the real cases that used blockchain technology to handle legal matters. An organization, such as the Global Legal Blockchain Consortium (GLBC), work with enterprises, law firms, software development units, and schools to study the standards formulation and application methods of the application of blockchain technology to law-related matters.  This article will first discuss the legal enforceability of data generated by the blockchain technology through international cases, then review Taiwan’s current status and the legal enforceability of the data generated by the blockchain technology and to explore possible direction for regulatory adjustment if the government intends to ease the restriction on the application of blockchain in the fields of evidence authentication and deposition. II. International cases 1. US case: adjust the existing regulations and recognize the enforceability of blockchain technology The amendment HB2417 to the Arizona Electronic Transactions Act (AETA) signed by Arizona in April 2017 defines the blockchain technology and smart contracts and recognizes their legal effect on signatures, records and smart contracts. HB2417 defines “blockchain technology” as a “distributed, decentralized, shared and replicated ledger, which may be public or private, permissioned or permissionless, or driven by “tokenized crypto economics or tokenless” and provides that the “data on the ledger” is protected with cryptography, is immutable and auditable and provides an uncensored truth.” It’s worth noting that although, by definition, the data is true, it is uncensored truth in nature, which emphasizes the originality of the data. A “smart contract” is an “event driven program, with state, that runs on a distributed, decentralized, shared and replicated ledger that can take custody over and instruct transfer of assets on that ledger.” Under the original AETA regulations, records or signatures in electronic form cannot be deprived of legal validity and enforceability merely because they are in electronic form. To eliminate the legal uncertainty of any blockchain related transactions and smart contracts related to digital assets, HB 2417 states that a signature that is secured through blockchain technology is considered to be in an electronic form and to be an electronic signature, and a record or contract that is secured through blockchain technology is considered to be in an electronic form and to be an electronic record. The statute also provides that smart contracts may exist in business, and a contract relating to a transaction may not be denied legal effect, validity or enforceability solely because that contract contains a “smart contract term.” This makes the enforceability of electronic signing and electronic transactions made by Arizona’s blockchain technology equivalent to that of the signature and contract made by the traditional written format. In the following year, the Ohio governor signed the amendment SB220 to the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) in August 2018, which took effect from November. The focus of the amendment is the same as that in Arizona. Although, unlike HB 2417, SB220 does not define blockchain technology, the added content can still guarantee the enforceability of electronic signatures and contracts made by the blockchain technology. The focus of the two amendments in the US is to supplement and revise the laws and regulations made in the past so that they are applicable to the transaction method under blockchain technology and have the same effect as other recognized methods. This reduces the uncertainty related to blockchain technology at the regulatory and commercial application level, and is expected to attract the blockchain related companies, investors and developers. 2. Case of China: The enforceability of blockchain technology in evidence deposition is recognized in line with courts’ new type of judgment. In September 2018, the Supreme People's Court implemented “The Provisions on Several Issues Concerning the Trial of Cases by Internet Courts,” in which Paragraph 2 of Article 11 mentions that where the authenticity of the electronic data submitted by a party can be proven through electronic signature, trusted time stamp, hash value check, blockchain or any other evidence collection, fixation or tamper-proofing technological means, or through the certification on an electronic evidence collection and preservation platform, the Internet court shall make a confirmation. It shows that the Internet court can recognize the evidence deposited by blockchain technology, and its enforceability is equivalent to that of other technologies if its authenticity can be proved. Paragraph 1 of the same article also proposes the basis for review and judgment on the relevant standards for the broad definition of electronic evidence recognition. “The authenticity of generation, collection, storage and transmission process of the electronic data shall be examined and judged, and the items to be reviewed include whether the hardware and software environments such as the computer system based on which electronic data is generated, collected, stored and transmitted are safe and reliable; whether electronic data originator and generation time are specified, and whether the contents shown are clear, objective and accurate; whether the storage and safekeeping media of electronic data are definite, and whether the safekeeping methods and means are appropriate; whether electronic data extractor and fixer, and electronic data extraction and fixation tools and methods are reliable, and whether the extraction process can be reproduced; whether the contents of electronic data are added, deleted, modified or incomplete, or fall under any other circumstance; and whether electronic data can be verified in specific methods.” The judgment is based on a clear review. It is a supplement to the notarization process, which was the solo judgment basis for the enforceability of digital evidence. In addition, the rules on proof are clearly set out in Article 9, which covers two situations: online and offline. For offline evidence, the parties can convert it into electronic materials by scanning, re-shooting and duplicating, and then upload it to the litigation platform. For online evidence, it can be divided into two situations. One is the online electronic evidence possessed by the party, which can be imported to the litigation platform by providing links or uploading materials. The other is that the Internet court can obtain the structural information of the relevant cases from the e-commerce platform operators, Internet service providers and electronic data deposition and retrieve platform, and import it to the litigation platform to directly provide the information to both parties so that they can select and prove their claims. In this way, the court can use technical means to complete the migration and visual presentation of information. Before the Supreme People's Court enforced the provisions, the Hangzhou Internet Court of China recognized the enforceability of electronic evidence under the blockchain technology when hearing a copyright dispute in June 2018. The court's judgment pointed out that after reviewing the impartiality, technical level and evidence preservation methods of the blockchain evidence deposit service provider, the enforceability of the evidence is recognized, and thus the case was deemed infringement. Beijing Dongcheng District Court also reviewed the blockchain deposition technology in an infringement of information network communication in September of the same year, including data generation, deposition, preservation, and recognized the enforceability of electronic evidence made by the blockchain technology. The court adopted the electronic evidence. The Beijing Internet Court allows evidence deposition of the litigation files and evidence uploaded to the electronic litigation platform through the Balance Chain of evidence deposition established by the blockchain technology when handling the litigation cases online. This can prevent tampering and ensure the safety of litigation while keeping possible litigation evidence to facilitate verification in the future. While the Balance Chain is going online, the supporting standards, including the Beijing Internet Court Electronic Evidence Platform Access and Management Standards, the Enforcement Rules of the Beijing Internet Court Electronic Evidence Platform Access and Management Standards, the Application Form for Beijing Internet Court Electronic Evidence Deposition Access and the Instruction on the Beijing Internet Court Electronic Evidence Deposition Access Interface, are released simultaneously. These supporting standards prescribe the requirement of receivers, the requirement for the electronic information system of the receiver and the requirement for the juridical application of the evidence platform in details from the practical point of view so that the potential receivers can interconnect in a compliant manner while ensuring the quality of the connected data. III. Taiwan’s current situation In the above cases, the United States amended the laws and regulations related to the electronic transaction by increasing the scope of the terms, such as electronic forms of records, signatures and transactions so that the records, signatures and transactions made by the blockchain technology is as effective as that of other technologies. According to Article 9 of the Taiwanese Electronic Signatures Act, the enforceability of the data generated by blockchain technology shall still be judged case by case in terms of the technology for electronic documents, signature and transaction formation, and its applicability or exclusion shall be determined by laws or administrative agencies. In China, the role of electronic data is discussed in the relevant standards used by the Internet Court to examine the cases. Regarding the definition of electronic materials, electronic records and electronic documents, Paragraph 1 of Article 2 of the Taiwanese Electronic Signatures Act defines electronic document as a record in electronic form, which is made of “any text, sound, picture, image, symbol, or other information generated by electronic or other means not directly recognizable by human perceptions, and which is capable of conveying its intended information.” In addition, Article 4 states “With the consent of the other party, an electronic record can be employed as a declaration of intent. Where a law or regulation requires that information be provided in writing, if the content of the information can be presented in its integrity and remains accessible for subsequent reference, with the consent of the other party, the requirement is satisfied by providing an electronic record. By stipulation of a law or regulation or prescription of a government agencies, the application of the two preceding paragraphs may be exempted, or otherwise require that particular technology or procedure be followed. In the event that particular technology or procedure is required, the stipulation or prescription shall be fair and reasonable, and shall not provide preferential treatment without proper justifications.”  The electronic records, regardless of the type of technology, are given the same effect as paper documents with the consent of both parties. In litigation, electronic records, electronic evidence or similar terms are not found in the Criminal Code of the Republic of China, the Civil Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Taiwan Code of Civil Procedure. The adoption of electronic records often refers to Paragraph 2 of Article 220 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of China. An audio recording, a visual recording, or an electromagnetic recording and the voices, images or symbols that are shown through the computer process and are sufficient evidence of intention shall be considered a document. The content that is considered meaningful is that the identity of the person expressing the content is identifiable according to the content and can be used to prove legal relationship or fact in social life. The relevant standards for proof under the electronic evidence follow Article 363 of the Taiwan Code of Civil Procedure. For non-documentary objects which operate as documents, including those are accessible only through technological devices or those that are practically difficult to produce their original version, a writing representing its content along with a proof of the content represented as being true to the original will be acceptable. However, the way of proof or recognition standards are not sufficiently described. Or according to Paragraph 2 of Article 159-4 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, “documents of recording nature, or documents of certifying nature made by a person in the course of performing professional duty or regular day to day business, unless circumstances exist making it obviously unreliable. In addition”, and Paragraph 3 “ Documents made in other reliable circumstances in addition to the special circumstances specified in the preceding two Items.”  In fact, the Juridical Yuan started to promote the electronic litigation platform (including online litigation) in 2016, and has launched the online litigation business by gradually opening the application for different types of applicants and litigation. However, there is no description on the technical type and inspection standards of electronic evidence. Moreover, only the litigation evidence is uploaded. There is no evidence deposition before litigation for comparison during litigation. Under Taiwan’s laws and regulations, electronic evidence and its proving method is not significantly different from other types of evidence. The judgment of evidence shall still depend on judges’ recognition on the evidence. Taking the practice of criminal litigation as an example, it can be viewed at three levels: 1. The submission of the evidence. If the evidence is collected illegally, not following a statutory method or is not logically related to the pending matters, it will be excluded. This is the way to determine whether the evidence is eligible to enter the evidence investigation process. 2. In the investigation of evidence, the method of investigation (e.g., whether it is legal), the determination of relevance and the debate on evidence (e.g., to confirm the identity of the person producing the electronic evidence, whether the electronic evidence is identical to the original version without addition, deletion or alteration) are investigated during the investigation procedure. 3. The debate on evidence is to determine the power of the evidence by considering the relationship among the elements that constitute the whole and whether the evidence can prove the connection among all elements. In addition, whether the electronic evidence is consistent with the original version is often based on Article 80 of the Notary Act, "When making notarial deeds, notaries shall write down the statements listened to, the circumstances witnessed, and other facts they have actually experienced. The means and results of the experience shall also be stated in the notarial deeds.”  A notary shall review the electronic evidence and record the inspection process and the inspection results to demonstrate its credibility. VI. Conclusions and recommendations According to the latest 2050 smart government plan announced in the Executive Yuan’s 3632nd meeting held on December 27, 2018, the government is planning to connect the database of each government agency through blockchain technology, and the plan also includes establishment of digital identification. It is foreseeable that there will be more and more electronic materials, documents and records connected by blockchain technology in the future. When it comes to improve management efficiency and reduce the barriers to introduce this technology to various sectors, it is necessary to adjust the related regulations. At present, there are no statutory provisions for the technology that assist the use of the electronic evidence involved in traditional litigation channels or online platforms, including using blockchain for evidence deposition and authentication . This also poses uncertainty to the judges when they make judgments. If we consider the continuous development and breakthrough of technology, which is relatively faster than the legislative process, and the traditional tangible transactions and contracts are still the majority in life, Taiwan has defined electronic materials, electronic records and electronic documents in the Electronic Signatures Act to ensure and strengthen the legal rights and benefits under the adoption of the technology. In addition, the Electronic Signatures Act also reserves the right to determine whether the technology is applicable to the laws and regulations or administrative agencies. In other words, the technology behind electronic materials, records and documents are not specified, and the aforementioned electronic materials have the same effect as the contracts and signature as the traditional written format. However, there are no standards to specify which standards are valid for evidence deposition and authentication for electronic materials on the level of deposition and authentication. In the future, when improving the relevant functions of the online litigation platform, the Juridical Yuan can also consider using technologies, such as blockchain or timestamps to provide evidence deposition service, which is expected to enhance the efficiency of evidence verification for online litigation in the future and prevent wasting review resources on invalid evidence for a better operation mode. This is in line with the government's policy direction. By providing support and demonstration of emerging technologies, not only limited to blockchain, on the legal level, it can reduce the public’s uncertainty and risk on introducing or applying the technology to legal process. This is very helpful in realizing a large scale application of the technology.  Legal Services Innovation Index, Phase 1, Version 1.0, https://www.legaltechinnovation.com/law-firm-index/ (last visited on Jan. 11, 2019).  For example, Arizona's Arizona Electronic Transactions Act (AETA) and Ohio’s Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) described the electronic signature and the enforceability of contracts under blockchain technology; in China, Beijing Internet Court provides litigation files and litigation evidence deposition service based on blockchain technology for future litigation.  The Global Legal Blockchain Consortium website, https://legalconsortium.org/ (last visited on Jan. 11, 2019).  H.B. 2417, 53th Leg., 1st Regular. (AZ. 2017).  S.B. 220, 132ND General Assembly. (OH. 2017-2018). “The Provisions on Several Issues Concerning the Trial of Cases by Internet Courts,” the Supreme People's Court of the People’s Republic of China http://www.court.gov.cn/zixun-xiangqing-116981.html (last visited on Jan. 11, 2019).  Tencent Research Institute, <The era of judicial blockchain has arrived? ——from the two cases of blockchain electronic deposition>, October 23, 2018, https://ek21.com/news/1/132154/ (last visited on Jan. 11, 2019).  Securities Daily, <Beijing Dongcheng District Court confirmed the evidence collection by blockchain for the first time-- application of "blockchain + justice" for new opportunities in history> October 20, 2018, https://www.jinse.com/bitcoin/258170.html (last visited on Jan. 11, 2019).  Paragraph 1 of Article 2 of the Electronic Signatures Act  Article 4 of the Electronic Signatures Act  Paragraph 2 of Article 220, “A writing, symbol, drawing, photograph on a piece of paper or an article which by custom or by special agreement is sufficient evidence of intention therein contained shall be considered a document within the meaning of this Chapter and other chapters. So shall be an audio recording, a visual recording, or an electromagnetic recording and the voices, images or symbols that are shown through computer process and are sufficient evidence of intention.”  Article 363 of the Taiwan Code of Civil Procedure, “The provisions of this Item shall apply mutatis mutandis to non-documentary objects which operate as documents. Where the content of a document or an object provided in the preceding paragraph is accessible only through technological devices or it is practically difficult to produce its original version, a writing representing its content along with a proof of the content represented as being true to the original will be acceptable. The court may, if necessary, order an explanation of the document, object, or writing representing the content thereof provided in the two preceding paragraphs.”  Paragraph 2 of Article 159-4 of the Code of Criminal Procedure  Liberty Times, <The Juridical Yuan is promoting “E-litigation.” Two new systems are on the road.” August 1, 2018, http://news.ltn.com.tw/news/society/breakingnews/2506118 (last visited on Jan. 11, 2019).  Chih-Lung Chen, “Seminar on the Reform of the Code of Criminal Procedure 3: Revision Direction of Rule of Evidence,” The Taiwan Law Review, Issue 52, Page 71-73 (1999).  Article 80 of the Notary Act.  BlockTempo, <The Executive Yuan Announced the Smart Government New Plan: the Taiwan Government will Use Blockchain Technology to Establish Information Exchange Mechanism of Various Agencies>, January 2, 2019, https://www.blocktempo.Com/taiwan-gv-want-to-use-blockchain-tech-build-data/ (last visited on Jan. 11, 2019).Antitrust Issue of Reasonable Royalty and Prohibition of Excessive Pricing in Taiwan
Antitrust Issue of Reasonable Royalty and Prohibition of Excessive Pricing in Taiwan A proposed antitrust framework to determine a reasonable royalty I. INTRODUCTION “Can, and should antitrust laws and authorities step in market prices?” - It has long been a controversial antitrust issue, especially when an antitrust case is involved with allegedly unlawful monopolization (or called abuse of monopoly in some countries), Intellectual Property (IP) rights (IPRs), reasonable royalties, and the complex and fast-changing technologies behind. It thus constitutes the tricky and challenging antitrust issue of reasonable royalty - “if a monopolistic firm is charging reasonable royalties or abusing its monopoly power?” Since the goals and regimes of antitrust are very different between Asia, the United States (the U.S.), and Europe, there are consequently various ways to deal with such issue. A. China and its Per-Se Violation of Excessive Pricing Several countries in East Asia aim to protect fair competition and social public interests via antitrust laws, including some other non-competition-based goals. China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan’s goals of antitrust all include protection of fair competition. China also articulates its goals to maintain public interests and promote socialist market economy. Japan also aims to promote the employment rate and the level of national income which are not competition-based goals. Furthermore, South Korea expresses its antitrust goal to achieve balanced economic development which is somehow tricky to judge. As a result of the concepts of fairness and non-competition interests, the antitrust issue of reasonable royalty can possibly lead to the determination of unfairly high prices and thus constitutes an unlawful per se violation of excessive pricing in East Asia. Take China as an example, China explicitly articulates the prohibition of charging unfairly high prices as a firm in dominant position. Moreover, China has further stepped in determining “appropriate royalties” supposedly charged by licensors and has demanded foreign firms in China to charge lower royalty rates. In Huawei v. InterDigital Technology Corporation (IDC), the court ruled that IDC charged Chinese firms unfairly high royalties and further held that the royalty rates of the Standard Essential Patents (SEPs) charged by IDC shall not exceed 0.019%. In the Qualcomm case in China, National Development and Reform Commission of China ruled that Qualcomm was charging unfairly high prices and demanded it to lower its royalty base. Additionally, China’s Anti-Monopoly Guidelines on the Abuse of Intellectual Property Rights published by the Ministry of Commerce of the People's Republic of China (MOFCOM) in March of 2017 were passed in the end of 2018. While already waiting to be formally executed, these Guidelines had received comments regarding reasonable royalties – especially the antitrust violation of licensing IPRs at unfairly high prices with 5 listed factors to consider whether there is abuse of dominant position. By pointing out the dangers of regulating price following with potential harms to competition, one of the comments encourages the Guidelines to have the relevant factors in terms of determining unfairly high prices, such as the prices of comparable licenses instead of any other irrelevant indicators. B. European Commission (EC) and its Per-Se Violation of Excessive Pricing While embracing free market economy and achieving social and political goals at the same time, EC prohibits unfairly high prices as unlawful per se by articulating “directly or indirectly imposing unfair purchase or selling prices or other unfair trading conditions” as abuse of market dominance. The test to it started from the case United Brands (1978) which stipulates the difference between cost and price. As the time came to the late 2000s, EC once said that “it takes no position on what a reasonable royalty is” in 2013 but later stated its option to act directly against excessive prices in 2016. In 2017, the Copyright and Communication Consulting Agency/Latvian Authors Association (the AKKA/LAA case) was brought to the court for charging excessive fees for its exclusive right to license. According to Article 267(a) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) shall have jurisdiction to give preliminary rulings concerning the interpretation of the Treaties. Given the questions referred to the CJEU in the AKKA/LAA case, the concept of excessive pricing therefore had the chance to be clarified further.  Three important principles established in this case are: (1) comparing the price at issue between the prices charged by other appropriate and sufficient comparators; (2) there is no threshold of what a royalty rate must be regarded as appreciably high, but a difference between rates must be both significant and persistent to be appreciable; (3) an analysis of fairness justification provided by the alleged dominant firm must be conducted. The AKKA/LAA case reestablished and reaffirmed EC’s resolve to enforce prohibition of excessive pricing. As for the recent times, the Danish Competition Council found that the Swedish pharmaceutical distributor - CD Pharma had abused its dominant position by charging excessive prices for Syntocinon, ruling the price increase of 2000% unjustified. The appeal against this decision is now pending. Many more excessive pricing cases are still ongoing within EU jurisdictions. C. The U.S. and its Hands-Off Approach towards Pricing U.S., on the other hand, never did and does not prohibit monopoly or excessive pricing, and has been warning the great dangers and potential harms to competition resulting from regulating price. The long-established principle of not regulating price, however, was shaken by U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC)’s complaint against Qualcomm for conducting unfair methods of competition in 2017. U.S. FTC filed a complaint against Qualcomm in 2017, alleging Qualcomm violating the Federal Trade Commission Act.According to the complaint, customers accepted elevated royalties that a court would not determine fair and reasonable due to Qualcomm’s unlawful maintenance of monopoly. However, the complaint fails to explain what a reasonable royalty is and why Qualcomm charges more than it is supposed to be charging. Furthermore, the dissenting statement of this case states that the theory adopted by FTC required proof of Qualcomm charging unfairly high royalties where there was failure of proving reasonable royalty baseline in the case. In January of 2019, this case finally kicked off in a California courtroom and the outcome of it will definitely have tremendous impacts on every stakeholder. Later in May 2019, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California found that Qualcomm violated the FTC Act. The case is still ongoing. D. Taiwan and its Unclear Attitude towards the Antitrust Issue of Reasonable Royalty So, where does Taiwan stand between prohibition of excessive pricing and the hands-off approach in the U.S.? In Taiwan, improperly setting, maintaining, or changing the price for goods or the remuneration for services as a monopolistic enterprise has long been unlawful per se since Taiwan’s Fair Trade Act (FTA) was enacted in 1991. This unlawful per se violation is in fact Taiwan’s prohibition of excessive pricing. However, the attitudes of Taiwan Fair Trade Commission (TFTC) and the courts in Taiwan towards the antitrust issue of reasonable royalty can be switching. They have avoided the issue, left the issue for private contracting, resorted to Patent Act, and determined royalties for the involving parties. Antitrust cases involving the issue of reasonable royalty can be a matter of billion-dollar fines, tremendous costs of litigation, negative impacts on innovation and competition, and harms to consumers. Such important issue can no longer be neglected by Taiwan anymore. By focusing on the antitrust issue of reasonable royalty in Taiwan, this paper will begin with the past attitude and the current antitrust framework of reasonable royalty in Taiwan. Further, because Taiwan has been looking up to the U.S. and its patent law in terms of calculating reasonable royalty in patent infringement cases; this paper will then turn to the reasonable royalty approach in Taiwan and the U.S. respectively. Even though this paper does not support prohibition of excessive pricing, we hope the antitrust issue of reasonable royalty in any excessive pricing case in Taiwan will be properly and carefully dealt with. Therefore, based on the proposed methodologies in a 2016 paper, the core of this paper will be proposing a framework for Taiwan in order to give clearer directions on how to face the antitrust issue of reasonable royalty along with the potential violation of Article 9 of FTA. II. THE PAST ATTITUDE AND THE CURRENT ANTITRUST FRAMEWORK OF REASONABLE ROYALTY IN TAIWAN A. The RCA, Catrick, and Microsoft case - 1995 ~ 2003 TFTC’s attitude towards the antitrust issue of reasonable royalty had long been unclear. In TFTC v. Radio of Corporation of America (RCA)(1995), RCA settled with TFTC for the accusation of charging improper royalties.In TFTC v. Microsoft (2002-2003), Microsoft settled with TFTC after 10 months being accused of conducting excessive pricing.  However, the details of both settlements were never published. In the Catrick case (1998), a U.S. firm named Catrick was accused of improperly charging royalties. TFTC attempted to resort to Patent Act but Patent Act at that time was silent on calculation of royalties. To play safe, TFTC did not interpret FTA or determine a reasonable royalty. Instead, TFTC left the issue to be solved under the principle of freedom of contract and closed the investigation. B. The CD-R Patent Pool Case – 2001~2015 1. Summary of the case Even being given 15 years of time, the antitrust issue of reasonable royalty still remained unsolved in the CD-R Patent Pool case (2001-2015). Upon the investigation from 1999, TFTC found that Philips Electronics NV (Philips) and other two companies had violated Article 10 of FTA with their unlawful concerted action and abuse of dominance in 2001. Here is the background: The CD-R manufactures in Taiwan accounted for 80% of the global CD-R manufacturing output when the time the CD-R technologies were a worldwide industrial revolution. The price of CD-R was originally at around $60 per piece in 1990. It later went down to $0.20 per piece in 2000. However, the three enterprises in the case kept refusing to change the formula for calculating the license fee. Thus, the pricing issue here was that if the three monopolistic enterprises improperly maintained the formula for calculating the CD-R license fee by joint licensing and refusing to change the license fee even though the market conditions had changed drastically at that time. After a series of appeals and retrials, TFTC again ruled that Philips violated Section 2 of Article 10 of FTA by abusing its dominant position and improperly maintaining the price for its jointly licensed technologies in 2015. To everyone’s disappointment, TFTC again left the determination of reasonable royalty unsolved. 2. Fights over reasonable royalty between courts and TFTC The tricky thing is, administrative courts, TFTC, Intellectual Property Court of Taiwan (IP Court of Taiwan) held totally different positions in the CD-R case in terms of the antitrust pricing issue: a. Taipei High Administrative Court (2003)  The court reasoned that the license fees should be determined by competition and cost structure on principle. As a result, the determinants to reasonable royalties would be supply and demand in the market. b. TFTC Decision No.095045 (2006)  TFTC did not hold that the defendants’ pricing practice in violation of FTA. However, it stated its position in stepping in royalties - “Business value of patents varies due to maturity of technologies and market development. Therefore, patent holders should consider prices of final products, value of patents, and contributions made by licensees while determining reasonable royalties… It is inappropriate for the antitrust authority in Taiwan to step in royalties unless there is indication of illegal monopolization or cartel. “ c. Intellectual Property Court Appeal Case No.14 (2008)  IP Court of Taiwan incorporated the concept of fairness in its decision by saying – “courts could only adjust the royalty rates in consideration of fairness towards both parties and other relevant factors in the contract.” Further, the court also said that it was not within TFTC’s jurisdiction to determine the reasonableness of the license fee charged by Philips. d. TFTC Decision No. 098156 (2009) By revealing the prices of CD-R output, shipment of CD-R, change of market conditions within 10 years, and the 60 times higher royalty revenues earned by Philips, Sony and Taiyo Yuden, TFTC found that the profits earned by the three defendants were beyond expectation and estimation. In conclusion, TFTC again held in its 2009 decision that the three defendants violated FTA by not giving opportunities to negotiate over the CD-R license fee upon the easily perceived market changes. e. Supreme Court of Taiwan, Case No.883 (2012)  After the long fights between courts and TFTC for 10 years, Sony and Taiyo Yuden had stopped fighting and their cases were affirmed in 2011. As for Philips, they enjoyed a huge turning point in 2012 because the Supreme Court of Taiwan abolished IP Court of Taiwan’s 2008 verdict and ruled that the governing laws of the contracts between the involving parties were Dutch laws. f. TFTC Decision No. 104027 (2015) TFTC did not get defeated and reached another decision against Philips in 2015. In the reasoning, TFTC first clarified that market prices should be determined by competition and cost structure. Then it claimed to still have the role to rule that Philips had been improperly maintaining the license fee of CD-R through abuse of dominance, refusals to renegotiate and earning excessive profits. To everyone’s disappointment, TFTC still left the determination of reasonable royalty unsolved. C. TFTC v. Qualcomm Incorporated (Qualcomm) (2015 - 2018) In 2017, TFTC ruled that Qualcomm violated Article 9(1) of FTA by refusing to license, imposing no license no chips policy, and conducting exclusive dealing. As for the pricing issue in this case, it was argued if the license fees charged by Qualcomm were unreasonably high and if the fees should be based on value of patents instead of net prices of manufactured phones. TFTC did point out the pricing issue in its reasoning but did not say much further. Instead, TFTC commented in the decision that Qualcomm had been enjoying excessive profits and stated that license fee was a matter of freedom of contract and negotiation. After a series of fights between TFTC and Qualcomm, both parties agreed to settle in August 2018. The Administrative Decision No. 106094 issued by TFTC was vacated with the replacement of the settlement which Qualcomm agreed to invest hundreds of millions in Taiwan and on other matters. D. The Current Antitrust Framework of Reasonable Royalty in Taiwan The current antitrust framework of reasonable royalty in Taiwan in this paper is based on the latest version of Fair Trade Act of Taiwan which was amended in 2017 and the latest version of IP Guidelines of Taiwan which was amended in 2016. There are three main steps in the current antitrust framework to deal with the reasonable royalty issue that suspiciously violates FTA in Taiwan. 1. Proper conducts pursuant to Intellectual Property Laws in Taiwan First, and most importantly, Article 45 of FTA excludes the application of FTA to all “proper conducts” pursuant to all IP Laws in Taiwan where TFTC does not give quite clear explanation of. The reason behind such exclusion stated in the legislative rationale of Article 45 of FTA is problematic - “Copyrights, Trademarks, and Patents are monopoly rights endowed by IP laws. Therefore, FTA shall not apply to them by nature.”  2. Guidelines on Technology Licensing Arrangements (IP Guidelines of Taiwan) Secondly, TFTC shall turn to review if IP Guidelines of Taiwan apply to any licensing practice in the case when it sees Article 45 of FTA not applicable. IP Guidelines of Taiwan articulates a correct and fundamental principle while reviewing a technology licensing agreement – “TFTC does not presume market power resulted from owning a patent or know-how.” Further, IP Guidelines of Taiwan do not articulate reasonable royalty or excessive pricing. Instead, the Guidelines make clear of the allowed and prohibited calculation methods for royalties. By recognizing the ease of calculation as efficiency, IP Guidelines of Taiwan basically allows the end product approach and the net sales approach to be applied in a technology licensing agreement as long as the licensed technology was indeed used by the licensee. Notwithstanding, TFTC still has the power to find an antitrust violation upon finding of improper matters even if a licensor complies with Section C of Article 5 of IP Guidelines of Taiwan.  3. Prohibited monopolistic conducts When neither Article 45 of FTA nor IP Guidelines of Taiwan applies to the case, the last step TFTC shall take towards reasonable royalty issue is to review if Section 2 of Article 9 of FTA applies - ” Monopolistic enterprises shall not engage in improperly setting, maintaining or changing the price for goods or the remuneration for services.”  Basically, it is the prohibition of excessive pricing in Taiwan. To be noticed, Article 9 of FTA can only be applied when there is one or more monopolistic enterprises involved. 4. Some issues under the current antitrust framework of reasonable royalty in Taiwan a. Proper conducts pursuant to all IP laws in Taiwan. Article 45 of FTA excludes the application of FTA to what so called “proper IP conducts.” Such exclusion is based on the idea that IPRs are monopoly rights – which is problematic. The fact is - IPRs are exclusive rights instead of monopoly rights. IPRs do not necessarily confer monopoly power or induce more anticompetitive behaviors than other types of property. Moreover, exercising an IPR can be engaging in improper market conducts that lessens competition. In other words, what should be kept in mind is that a proper IP conduct may still possibly constitute an antitrust violation. b. The maybe-violation in IP Guidelines of Taiwan. IP Guidelines of Taiwan are basically friendly towards the end product and the net sales approaches for calculating royalties. However, Article 5 of the Guidelines still gives TFTC the power to find a “maybe” antitrust violation upon any improper matters. Such maybe violation makes the protection under IP Guidelines shaky and even not that useful. c. No such thing as excessive profit. One of the legislative reasons behind the prohibition of excessive pricing in Taiwan is that - “when a firm does not price its products based on reflection of the costs but intends to gain exorbitant profits, such improper pricing conduct would be the most effective way to exclude competition.”  Firstly, there is no such thing as an excessive or exorbitant profit in a free market economy when a price is determined by supply and demand which results in profits you earn accordingly. Secondly, instead of the profits, it should be the price or the pricing practice to be evaluated due to the purpose of excessive pricing violation. d. Missing harms to competition. Most important of all in any excessive pricing case – where are the harms to competition? It should be clear that unjustified profits are not what antitrust laws aim to punish but the anticompetitive market conducts that harm competition. Which is to say – if a monopolistic enterprise has been charging excessive prices through abuse of monopoly that generates harms to competition? With the ultimate goal of protecting the overall competition and consumers, there must be potential or actual harms to competition proven in any excessive pricing case. Such as higher prices, lower outputs, exclusion of competition, entry barriers, negative impact on innovation, or so. E. The Reasonable Royalty Approach under the Patent Act in Taiwan 1. Damages as reasonable royalty Article 97(1) of Patent Act of Taiwan lists three approaches for calculating damages in any event of patent infringement. One of the approaches is the reasonable royalty approach. The so-called reasonable royalty is the royalty the licensee would have paid if there had been a negotiation instead of an infringement. In practical, any profit earned by the licensee from the infringement is excluded from the damages while adopting such approach. Since the infringing licensee saved the costs of negotiation and the licensor spent extra costs on patent infringement litigation, it is also recognized that damages calculated by adopting the reasonable royalty approach can be more than the royalty the licensee would have paid. 2. Determinants and principles in a hypothetical negotiation over royalty After all, the reasonable royalty approach assumes a hypothetical negotiation over royalty between the licensee and licensor. There are still controversies over the determinants and principles to be applied while adopting such approach. Various considerations would possibly lead to drastically different reasonable royalties just like the NT$10 million and NT$1 billion damages in the Philips v. Gigastorage case.  Koninklijke Philips NV (Philips) brought a patent infringement lawsuit against Gigastorage Corporation (Gigastorage, a Taiwan-based manufacturer) at the IP Court of Taiwan in 2014, alleging that Gigastorage had been infringing their Taiwanese patent from 2000 through 2015 by manufacturing and selling DVD related products. The pricing issue here is how to calculate the damages and compensation of unauthorized utilization of the patent involved where the calculation methods and considerations would make big differences. IP Court of Taiwan awarded NT$10.5 million as damages based on reasonable royalty approach in the first trial. However, the same court of different judges later ruled that the damages should be over NT$1 billion according to unjust enrichment. The case was brought to the Supreme Court of Taiwan in 2017. In September 2018, the NT$1 billion judgement was remanded and now the IP Court of Taiwan is thus responsible for a retrial. Nevertheless, the two most common determinants to a reasonable royalty under this approach are – licensing history and comparable patents. Interestingly and importantly, these two determinants are also taken into consideration by several antitrust jurisdictions in the world while dealing with the issue of reasonable royalty. III. WHETHER TO REGULATE EXCESSIVE PRICING AND THE MONDERN REASONABLE ROYALTY APPROACH IN THE U.S. A. Whether to regulate excessive pricing? Supply and demand are two key factors that determine a price in a free market. Profits are usually what encourage innovation and attract firms doing businesses in the first place. There is no doubt that a firm sets a price it believes to maximize its profits – which is profit maximization rule in economics. When a monopoly tries to manipulate or disturb the market by setting a lower or higher price that does not go along with profit maximization rule, here are some possible consequences: (1) new entries in the market trying to share the profits; (2) consumers might switch to substitutes of the product in order to pay less; (3) monopoly might lose profits that it would earn otherwise. Simply saying, a free market usually responds to market changes quite well and can function accordingly without too much disruption. Regardless of the free market mechanism, there are still many voices discouraging the prohibition of excessive pricing due to the inherent dangers of regulating prices – such as discouraging investment in research and development activities, impairing innovation, and ultimately harming consumers. Along with the antitrust jurisdictions that prohibit excessive pricing by law, there are studies showing that prohibition of excessive pricing may benefit the market or – the consumers. A 2015 research finds that: “when economies of scale and entry barriers imply a great likelihood of dominant firms not subjecting to regulation but capable of charging supra-competitive prices, excessive pricing regulation is then important for smaller markets.” A study in 2017 further examines the competitive effects of the prohibition of excessive pricing by applying two competitive benchmarks – retrospective benchmark and contemporaneous benchmark to assess the price charged by a dominant firm excessive or not. The study finds that the two benchmarks restrain the dominant firm’s behavior but soften the firm’s behavior when its competing with a rival. By setting certain factors homogeneous, a retrospective benchmark for excessive pricing benefits consumers. While under different circumstances, consumers are worse off and inefficient entries are created. Overall, the study indicates that the competitive effects of prohibition of excessive pricing vary as we consider various factors – such as the nature of competition, the expected fines, incentive to invest in research and development (R&D), cost of litigation and more.  As a whole, there are still a great number of concerns about potential dangers of regulating price. However, whether to regulate excessive pricing or not, the fundamental question to ask is still – “how to determine a reasonable price to assess if the price at issue is excessive?” B. The Modern Reasonable Royalty Approach in the U.S. U.S. antitrust agencies do not prohibit excessive pricing. An IPR holder is free to charge a monopoly price just as a monopoly is free to earn its monopoly profits as long as the monopoly price and profits are not resulted from anticompetitive conducts that violate antitrust laws in the U.S. While saying that, U.S. still has a reasonable royalty approach developed under its patent law which is the law Taiwan has copied a lot from.  There are different methodologies for the reasonable royalty approach in the U.S., the most common one would be the hypothetical negotiation which was matured from Georgia-Pacific Corp. v. United States Plywood Corpin 1971 (Georgia-Pacific case), ruling that the proper damages in a patent infringement case as – “the amount that a licensor and the infringer would have agreed upon.” By adopting this hypothetical negotiation framework, the case eventually developed a list of 15 determinants as to a reasonable royalty:  (1) The royalties received by the patentee for the licensing of the patent in suit, proving or tending to prove an established royalty. (2) The rates paid by the licensee for the use of other patents comparable to the patent in suit. (3) The nature and scope of the license, as exclusive or non-exclusive; or as restricted or non-restricted in terms of territory or with respect to whom the manufactured product may be sold. (4) The licensor's established policy and marketing program to maintain his patent monopoly by not licensing others to use the invention or by granting licenses under special conditions designed to preserve that monopoly. (5) The commercial relationship between the licensor and licensee, such as, whether they are competitors in the same territory in the same line of business; or whether they are inventor and promotor. (6) The effect of selling the patented specialty in promoting sales of other products of the licensee; the existing value of the invention to the licensor as a generator of sales of his non-patented items; and the extent of such derivative or convoyed sales. (7) The duration of the patent and the term of the license. (8) The established profitability of the product made under the patent; its commercial success; and its current popularity. (9) The utility and advantages of the patent property over the old modes or devices, if any, that had been used for working out similar results. (10) The nature of the patented invention; the character of the commercial embodiment of it as owned and produced by the licensor; and the benefits to those who have used the invention. (11) The extent to which the infringer has made use of the invention; and any evidence probative of the value of that use. (12) The portion of the profit or of the selling price that may be customary in the particular business or in comparable businesses to allow for the use of the invention or analogous inventions. (13) The portion of the realizable profit that should be credited to the invention as distinguished from non-patented elements, the manufacturing process, business risks, or significant features or improvements added by the infringer. (14) The opinion testimony of qualified experts. (15) The amount that a licensor (such as the patentee) and a licensee (such as the infringer) would have agreed upon (at the time the infringement began) if both had been reasonably and voluntarily trying to reach an agreement; that is, the amount which a prudent licensee who desired, as a business proposition, to obtain a license to manufacture and sell a particular article embodying the patented invention would have been willing to pay as a royalty and yet be able to make a reasonable profit and which amount would have been acceptable by a prudent patentee who was willing to grant a license. The U.S. reasonable royalty approach and the calculation of reasonable royalty have been evolving since then. The Federal Circuit in a 2011 case held that the long-used and criticized 25 percent rule of thumb is fundamentally flawed for determining a baseline royalty rate in a hypothetical negotiation. The rule suggests that 25% of the expected profits for the product that incorporates the IP at issue as a baseline royalty rate. Practically, the profits earned by the licensee and the revenues of the product are still often taken into consideration nowadays while applying the U.S. reasonable royalty approach. Further, the Ninth Circuit modified some factors in Microsoft Corp. v. Motorola Inc. (2012) which was a case involved with reasonable and non-discriminatory (RAND) commitment, standard essential patents (SEPs), and patent pool.  This case raised some important factors to determine a RAND royalty, such as RAND commitment and its purposes, SEPs’ contribution and importance, alternatives of SEPs to the adopted standard, and so on. Comparable patents play a very critical factor in this case in terms of calculating a RAND royalty. Also, it is important to notice that the function of a RAND commitment limits a SEP licensor to royalties that reflect their ex ante values instead of the incremental monopoly power provided by the standard. In Ericsson, Inc. v. D-Link Systems, Inc. (2014), a modified version of the 15 factors was adopted after the Federal Circuit held that – not every factor from the 15 factors in Georgia-Pacific will apply to every case, and courts must instruct the jury on factors that are relevant in the case. Also, the burden of proof is on the implementer (or, the antitrust authority in an excessive pricing case) to establish a baseline royalty with evidence. That royalty then must be assessed to determine if it is excessive. By adopting incremental value approach and incorporating apportionment, the Federal Court here provides a more complete guidance on how to calculate royalties for patents on RAND terms: (1) Importance of RAND commitment; (2) Apportionment of patented features: the royalty for the patented technology must be apportioned from the value of the standard as a whole; (3) Incremental value approach: the royalty must be based on the incremental value of the invention, instead of any value added by the standardization of the invention or the standard itself. Lastly, two factors that were not often discussed while determining a reasonable royalty were applied inPrism Technologies LLC v. Sprint Spectrum L.P. (2017) - previous settlement agreements and cost savings though infringement. In conclusion, the modern reasonable royalty approach under U.S. patent law was evolved from the adopted 15 factors in Georgia Pacific case. The approach then has been developing along with changes of law, development of technology, adoption of SEPs, RAND and FRAND commitments, and more other relevant factors. IV. A PROPOSED ANTITRUST FRAMEWORLK OF REASONABLE ROYALTY FOR TAIWAN Having articulated the past attitude and the current antitrust framework of reasonable royalty in Taiwan, we have pointed out some misunderstandings in the current framework. Having addressed the reasonable royalty approaches under the patent laws in Taiwan and the U.S., we also have found similarities in between – the hypothetical negotiation framework and relevant determinants. Even though there are concerns against prohibition of excessive pricing due to potential dangers of regulating price and supports towards ultimate protection of free competition, TFTC and the courts in Taiwan are still required by law to apply the prohibition of excessive pricing against IPRs for the current time being. Therefore, the most important section and the core of this paper now has come forward – which is a proposed antitrust framework composed of possible methodologies and clearer guidance for Taiwan to deal with the antitrust issue of reasonable royalty in an excessive pricing case. The proposed framework is based on the proposed methodologies in a 2016 paper - which is to apply the hypothetical negotiation framework under U.S. patent law to determine a reasonable royalty or a competitive benchmark in an excessive pricing case. By applying the most relevant factors and adhering to important and correct principles in the case, a reasonable royalty as a baseline is thus determined to evaluate if the price at issue is excessive. Before articulating the proposed framework in a more detailed way, it is important to notice some basic differences between reasonable royalty in a patent infringement case and an excessive pricing case: Table 1 Reasonable Royalty in between a Patent infringement Case and an Excessive Pricing Case Reasonable Royalty in an Excessive Pricing Case Reasonable Royalty in a Patent Infringement Case Base Country Countries that prohibit excessive pricing. U.S. Case Type Antitrust case Patent infringement case Governing Law Antitrust (competition) law Patent law Prohibited Action A prohibited act of charging unfairly high price through abuse of monopoly. A prohibited act of unauthorized making, using, offering, or selling any patented invention. The Reasonable Royalty Issue Through determining a reasonable royalty to evaluate if a firm is charging excessive royalty through abuse of monopoly. Through determining a reasonable royalty to establish damages/compensation for the act of patent infringement. Proof of Harm Having found excessive pricing, competitive harms should be proved to establish an excessive pricing violation. Harm is proved after determining the reasonable royalty. Having proven the act of patent infringement, damages will then be determined based on reasonable royalty. Harm is proved to exist before calculating the damages. Negotiation There was negotiation over royalty before the lawsuit starts. There sometimes had no negotiation over royalty. Reasonable Royalty Approach Apply relevant factors to determine a reasonable royalty, then compare it with the price at issue to decide if the firm is charging excessive price through abuse of monopoly. Apply hypothetical negotiation framework to determine the royalty the licensor and the infringer would have agreed upon if there had been a negotiation instead of an infringement. Relevant Factors There are multiple and various factors applied in different countries, often not systematic or relevant. The 15 factors evolved from Georgia-Pacific, and some modified and new factors developed later on. A. Step 1 – Important Principles to Keep in Mind Regarding the Antitrust Issue of Reasonable Royalty. 1. No presumption of monopoly power: Ownership of IPRs does not necessarily confer monopoly power. 2. IP conducts may possibly constitute antitrust violations: Enforcing IPRs or any seemingly proper IP conduct may still possibly constitute an antitrust violation, so that they shall not be excluded from the application of FTA. 3. No such thing as excessive profit in free market economy: It is the pricing practice conducted by a monopolistic enterprise that should be evaluated in an excessive pricing case, instead of the profits the enterprise earns. 4. Harm to competition is and should be the key to establish an antitrust violation under Article 9 of FTA: Simply charging a perceived excessive price or earning some unjustified profits does not automatically constitute an antitrust violation. It is the competition and consumers that we should protect in terms of any excessive pricing case. Thus, harms to competition and consumers should be proved – such as lower outputs, entry barriers, and negative impacts on innovation or R&D activities. B. Step 2 – Compliance with Article 45 of FTA & IP Guidelines of Taiwan. 1. Firstly, all proper conducts pursuant to all IP laws in Taiwan are excluded to the application of FTA even though there is no clear explanation of what would be proper IP conducts. 2. If Article 45 of FTA does not apply in the case, we should turn to IP Guidelines of Taiwan to see if the involved market conducts or pricing practices would violate the Guidelines. If the Guidelines do not apply here, then we shall turn to Step 3 of the proposed framework. C. Step 3 – If it is a Potential Excessive Pricing Case? Section 2 of Article 9 of FTA articulates - “Monopolistic enterprises shall not engage in improperly setting, maintaining or changing the price for goods or the remuneration for services.” 1. There must be a monopolistic enterprise. 2. The prices of goods or services or the pricing practices involved are reasonably challenged by the implementers or TFTC.  D. Step 4 – When would a hypothetical negotiation have taken place? When it is a potential excessive pricing case under Section 2 of Article 9 of FTA, it is time to apply the hypothetical negotiation framework under patent law to determine a reasonable royalty within antitrust framework. While the first thought we come up with is usually “how much the parties would have agreed upon,” what we often ignore is that – “when would a hypothetical negotiation have happened? “The timeframe of the hypothetical negotiation is in fact highly related to what relevant factors we should consider in terms of determining a reasonable royalty. Such timeframe issue thus could cause huge impacts on the amount of damages in a patent infringement case and affect the competitive benchmark in an excessive pricing case. More clarifications are as follows: 1. In a patent infringement case: a. Pure ex ante approach: By assuming the parties would have negotiated over the royalty before the infringement began, such approach reflects an ex ante negotiation in the absence of infringement based on the information available before the infringement. Two supporting reasons are: (1) preservation of incentives; (2) avoidance or lowering the cost of patent holdup. b. Pure ex post approach: This approach sets the negotiation reached on some later date, such as the date of judgement or any time after the infringement. Such approach could possibly provide more available and provable information to determining a royalty but could also give the patentee more bargaining power when the patentee is holding an injunction against the infringer. Figure 1 Timeframes of the Hypothetical Negotiation Applying Pure Ex Ante Approach and Pure Ex Post Approach c. Contingent Ex Ante Approach: Pros and concerns when applying pure ex ante and pure ex post approaches are out there to be noted. While a proposed approach claims to address the issues of patent holdup and bargaining power at the same time – which is called contingent ex ante approach. This approach sets the negotiation prior infringement reached contingent on the ex post information, arguing that ex post information provides a better measure for the true value of the patented technology. Further, it is said to be able to take new and changed circumstances into account in every individual infringement case. Here is a simple example presented in the paper: (1) A $500,000 royalty might be agreed upon based on the parties’ expectation that the infringer would earn $1 million above what it would earn if it used the next-best available non-infringing patent. (2) At the date of judgement, the infringer is proven to earn $1.5 million instead of $1 million. This $1.5 million earning would be the ex post information applied in an ex ante negotiation. On the other hand, if the proven earning is only $500,000, then the royalty the parties might have agreed upon would be lower. (3) By applying contingent ex ante approach, it is argued that the patent hold-up would be avoided and the bargaining power between the parties would be balanced. Figure 2 Timeframes of the Hypothetical Negotiation Applying Contingent Ex Ante Approach 2. In an excessive pricing case: Applying the hypothetical negotiation framework under patent law in an excessive pricing case is much more difficult on one matter – the timeframe discussed above. Some important reasons are as follow: (1) Excessive pricing cases involve comparing a competitive benchmark with the price at issue, yet the prices in a case could be changing over time. (2) There were already negotiations over royalty before an excessive pricing lawsuit starts. (3) Involvement of FRAND and SEPs only make it more complicated to determine a reasonable royalty while facing the timeframe issue. E.g. the timing of a patent’s incorporation into a standard is critical and affects the value of the invention. Figure 3 Excessive Pricing Case and the Timeframe Issue E. Step 5 – If there are FRAND or RAND terms? Royalties negotiated on FRAND or RAND terms (FRAND royalties) can be and are usually different from those without. FRAND royalties may involve the following factors which often consequently affect royalties in real world: 1. FRAND obligations and terms: such as fairness, royalty free, grant back provision, exclusivity and other reciprocal terms. 2. Timing of the establishment of a standard: A patent may exist before the establishment of an industrial standard. As this patent is considered essential to a standard and also is included in such standard, the value of such patent – SEP usually goes up. 3. Cooperation between SEP holders: the number of SEP holders and the number of SEPs included in a standard can be influential. 4. Other factors: standard setting organizations’ policies, threat of injunction, patent hold-up and hold-out, royalty stacking, other available and comparable technologies, and relationship between licensors and licensees. F. Step 6 – Consider the Most Relevant Factors. No matter what approach or timeframe of hypothetical negotiation gets adopted in an excessive pricing case, the most relevant factors to consider in determining a reasonable royalty are as follow: 1. Comparable patents The best potential non-infringing alternatives should be the top determinant. What we usually consider as alternatives here are the existing patents in the marketplace since it would be impractical to include expired or invalid patents as comparable patents. But if we take the issue of the timeframe of a hypothetical negotiation into consideration, the status of the patents could be different – which means the hypothetical negotiation could have happened when there were more or less comparable patents. Undoubtedly, comparability is hard to judge. Loads of factors have been taken into account – technical and economic standpoints, the underlying technology, timing of the licensing, previous settlements or litigations, and other more. As noted here, comparable patents are provided as evidence to determining a reasonable royalty – not to its admissibility. Further, here are more difficulties while looking for comparable patents: a. Lots of technology-related royalties nowadays are negotiated on a patent portfolio basis using the end-user device as the royalty base. Both end-user based and portfolio based calculations make it harder to extract the value of an individual patent. b. Cross-licensing or business relationships are sometimes built in exchange of patent licensing. It means that there sometimes has no cash payment involved to know the values of patents. c. Should the allegedly comparable patents cover foreign patents? 2. FRAND royalties: a. FRAND or RAND commitment and its importance. b. Number of SEPs and number of SEP holders in a standard setting. c. Proper apportionment: By the reason that not all patents are created equal or of the same value, the value of an individual patent’s contribution to the standard and the end product is a critical factor when determining a FRAND royalty. As noted here for clarification, even though the Federal Circuit in the famous Ericsson v. D-Link case stated that a FRAND royalty should not include the value that a technology gains from simply being included in a standard, it should not be interpreted as a complete exclusion of any of a standard’s value. When a patented technology in fact creates values for a standard due to its inclusion, these values should definitely be considered as contribution and an important factor. G. Step 7 – Consider Other Factors 1. Other factors may possibly be considered a. The terms and scope of the licensing agreement, as exclusive, non-exclusive, restrictive, or non-restrictive. b. The nature and benefits of the technology or invention. c. Licensor’s monopoly power, and its policies or programs to maintain or preserve such power. d. Licensing history between the parties, and between the licensor and other firms. e. Investments made to implement the technology or the standard. f. Barriers to entry, it could be legal barriers, exclusive agreements, economies of scale, or network effect. As for antitrust of excessive pricing in Taiwan, a paper suggests that entry barriers should be one of the keys to determine if TFTC should step in. That is to say - when there are entry barriers delaying or barring new entries in a market, TFTC should possibly have jurisdiction and a case according to the types of the barriers. g. Royalty stacking and patent hold-up and hold-out. h. Smallest saleable component rule: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) amended its patent policy in 2015 and included the smallest saleable Compliant Implementationas an important consideration in terms of determining a reasonable royalty. 2. Factors not recommended to be considered. a. Profits earned from charging the allegedly excessive royalty. b. The profitability, commercial success, popularity, advantages, utilities, and the sales of the patented products. c. The value of the pure adoption of the standard. d. Commercial and business relationships involved. e. Other non-competition, non-patent-related, or pure business factors. H. Step 8– Compare the Reasonable Royalty to the Alleged Excessive Price 1. The determined reasonable royalty is a baseline or what we call a competitive benchmark. It should not be a minimal royalty a patent owner can charge. 2. As for practicality, it is allowed to be more than just reasonable royalty to be compensated to the patent owner in a patent infringement case. Just like a firm can charge a price more than the cost of its product. Therefore, the price at issue should not be necessarily excessive when the determined reasonable royalty is greater than the alleged excessive price. V. CONCLUSION Excessive pricing cases involving the antitrust issue of reasonable royalty can be a matter of tremendous cost of litigation, fines of billion dollars, and unimaginable potential harms to competition. The great dangers involved through regulating price can lead to negative impacts on innovation, industries, and consumers - consequently to the ultimate failure of protection of competition. Putting aside the doubts about the prohibition of excessive pricing, I respectfully propose an antitrust framework of reasonable royalty in this paper with a sincere goal to help Taiwan with the issue of reasonable royalty in any excessive pricing case in the future. Lastly, I sincerely address the most essential and ultimate principle of antitrust here, again - it is and should always be the competition that antitrust laws and agencies aim to protect, not competitors, prices or only the consumers.  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See Fair Trade Act of 2017 §45:”No provision of this Act shall apply to any proper conduct in connection with the exercise of rights pursuant to the provisions of the Copyright Act, Trademark Act, Patent Act or other Intellectual property laws.”; available at http://law.moj.gov.tw/Eng/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?PCode=J0150002 (last visited Mar. 5, 2018); also see FAIR TRADE COMMISSION, Administrative Statement No. 02678 (2000), https://www.ftc.gov.tw/internet/main/doc/docDetail.aspx?uid=225&docid=431 (last visited Mar.25, 2018).  Legislative Rationales of Fair Trade Act of 1991, available at https://www.ftc.gov.tw/law/LawContent.aspx?id=FL011898 (last visited Aug. 6, 2019).  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Background Blockchain is a technology with the ability to decentral and distribute information. It records encrypted information of the user’s behavior. Blockchain has disintermediate, transparency, programmable, autonomous, immutable and anonymous essential features. The first application of blockchain is to develop cryptocurrency and a payment system, Bitcoin, which has overturned traditional concept of the currency model we knew. So far, blockchain has been widely applied in many territories, such as the intellectual property protection system, called the Blockai, which is a website using blockchain to overcome the plight of piracy in the United States. Example The Library of Congress in the United States found that it had been lack of efficiency for the copyright management. Blockai provided a solution for the Library. Authors will benefit from having proof of publication and copyright monitoring by registering with Blockai. The Blockai system securely timestamps copyright claims in the distributed database based on the Bitcoin protocol. For each copyright claim, a proof file is made available through the footer of the certificate and can be verified by authors using this open source proof verification tool, and it is free of charge for everyone. Although the "Proof of Publication" does not constitute admissible evidence in a trial, it is still credible in its technical features. Conclusion In Taiwan, there is still no copyright registering system. Before a copyright infringement suit may be filed in court, the burden of proof is on the copyright owner. For it is difficult for the copyright owner to provide a credible evidence in trial. We may consider using the experiences of other countries for our reference, developing the intellectual property protection system based on blockchain technology in order to help authors preserve their rights, and provide legal services as a legal technology.South Korea’s Strategy for Reinforcing Protection of Corporate Trade Secrets-Trade Secret Protection Center
Preface In order to increase the strength of addressing issues on the infringement of intellectual property for small and medium enterprises, Korean government launched Consultative Committee for Intellectual Property Policies, leading by Presidential Council on Intellectual property and conducting with Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Korean Intellectual Property Office and Ministry of Justice, to discuss how to reinforce efficiency on handling infringement of intellecual property and work on policy for intellectual property protection. Korean government has considered trade secret as the core of corporations; however, corporations think little of it. For this reason, Korea Institute of Patent Information’s Trade Secret Protection Section, in charge of the Trade Secret Protection Center, works to avoid the outflow of business skills and trade secrets, to improve trade secret protection system, to raise awareness of trade secret protection and develops South Korea as an intellectual property power. This article aims to briefly introduce the standard management system, the diagnosis of corporate trade secret and the Trade Secret Certification Service which are schemed out by the Trade Secret Protection Center. Explanation on Major Strategies Trade Secret Diagnosis & Standard Management System In an attempt to offer a diagnosis of current problems about trade secret management in corporations for drawing up suggestions for improvements, the Trade Secret Protection Center sets up a series of questions based on the five categories: organization policy management, document access management, staff management, physical management and information technology management. There are in total 32 questions with detailed sub-questions for knowing if corporations have set up regulations and if the regulations are followed; if the regulations are not followed, if they have strategy to tackle with violation. For example, the question for internet management is to examine on how corporation manages intranet and extranet. Some possible policies are to make them separated, to do authority control or to do nothing. Here is the procedure for diagnosis: 1.Preparation Employees are asked to gather information regarding trade secret management and improvement opinions by a questionnaire. 2.Diagnosis Get the result of how well corporation has done for trade secret management by analyzing the questionnaires. 3.Plan Come up with solutions according to diagnosis. 4.Action Provide suggestions with different levels of work. Level Description A (above 81 point, Excellent) Well-formed trade secret management and great operation B (71-80 point, Good) Limited strategy with law protection for trade secret outflow C (61-70 point, Average) Weak strategy with a lack of law protection for trade secret outflow, management needed D (41-60 point, Fair ) Poor law protection for trade secret outflow, management needed badly F (below 40 point, Poor) High Risk of trade secret outflow The Trade Secret Protection Center will examine and offer staff training periodically in an effort to improve following aspects: 1.Corporation Management (1)Avoid crucial information outflow (2)Systemize issue handling and information authentication process 2.Organization Culture (1)Convey the importance of information protection (2)Decrease the incoordination among departments due to protecting key information (3)Build trade secret protection culture 3.Staff (1)Provide long-term training for trade secret protection (2)Build up ability of trade secret protection The trade secret diagnosis is considered as a way to make trade secret the key intangible asset in corporations and even to increase the competitiveness and to create profits. In addition to the trade secret diagnosis, the Trade Secret Protection Center further provides immature business with the standard management system which contains services with trade secret registration, level distinguishments, authority control, staff management, contract management and certification service. The primary goal of the standard management system is to help with production and maintenance of trade secret certification before issue occurs. When issue happens, the system is right here to submit certification of trade secret and guarantee to the court that nobody can access trade secrets except the possessor of the trade secret and the institution. In other words, the system is intended for following goals: 1.Efficientize Trade Secret Management Save time, money and manpower. Manage trade secret and related information efficiently. 2.Raise Awareness of Trade Secret Protection Among Employees Strengthen awareness and application of trade secret protection by using this system as daily work process 3.Link to the Trade Secret Certification Service Prove the original document of trade secret with the time stamp of ownership for judicial evidences. 4.Link to Information Security Solution Cooperate with various information security solutions, such as trade secret control and outflow block. Trade Secret Certification Service The Trade Secret Certification Service which is built to link to standard management system is put into practice in 2010 by Korean Intellectual Property Office. This service operates by taking the hash values from trade secret e-documents and combining them with authorized time values from trusted third-parties, thereby creating time stamps. Time stamps are then registered with the Korea Institute of Patent Information to prove the existence of original document of trade secrets, as well as and their initial dates of possession. A legal basis is built for the Trade Secret Certification Service in 2014. Amendments of Unfair Competition Prevention and Trade Secret Protection Act indicate registration and proof of the Trade Secret Certification Service and explain that an institution with more than 3 qualified staff and required facilities is eligible to be a Trade Secret Certification Service institution. The Trade Secret Certification Service is characterized by the following properties: 1.Block Trade Secret Outflow Radically Instead of the trade secret itself, this service only asks for hash value of e-records and the authorized time of ownership which make it more secure for corporations to manage trade secrets rather than maintaining under a third-party. 2.Various Electronic Records Available Various types of electronic records are available in this service, such as documents, pictures and video files which could contain production process, laboratory notebook, blueprint, marketing records, financial records, selling information and customer information and contracts. 3.Institution with Credibility It is inevitable that any piece of information could be leaked out; hence trade secret management should be executed by credible institution. For example, corporation can ask the Trade Secret Certification Service Institution to register an original document for a blueprint and get a certification. Then, the corporation can ask for new registration for modified blueprint as well. When issue occurs, the certification would be the proof of original document and time of ownership. As the Trade Secret Certification Service Institution gets legalized, the evidence of original document of trade secrets and initial dates of possession would get more convincible in court. Conclusion The trade secret diagnosis plays an essential role in understanding the level of trade secret management in corporations. The standard management system further provides with improvement and solution for trade secret protection based on diagnosis. In addition, legalized Trade Secret Certification Service also levitates the burden of proof on corporation. South Korea’s experience in trade secret management could be a good example for Taiwan to follow.