Taiwan, a country with limited natural resources, has been seen to create rapid economic development for the past few decades. This achievement has been praised as an “economic miracle” and making Taiwan one of Asia’s “Four Tigers1”. The success is a result of the tremendous hard work and efforts exerted by the local people and enterprises and the forward-looking national policies initiated by the government.
Recognizing fast technology breakthroughs and globalization trend are going to have major impacts on the traditional ways of managing business and may as a result change the current competitive landscape, the government of Taiwan has promoted vigorously of transforming Taiwan into a “green silicon island” with high value-added production2. The goal is to make Taiwan an innovation headquarters for local enterprises and a regional research and development center for international corporations. It is hoped that eventually, Taiwan will not only be known as a country manufacturing high-quality “ Made in Taiwan” products as it is now, but also an innovative country producing products that are “Designed in Taiwan”.
In order to encourage more innovation and to create more high value-added products, several national strategies were initiated by the government. One of the most important policies in today’s knowledge-based economy is certainly to provide a sound and effective intellectual property protection environment so that the results created from human intelligence can be well protected and utilized.
This essay provides an overview of the recent progress of the TIPS (stands for Taiwan Intellectual Property System) project, which is currently promoted by the Science and Technology Law Center. The TIPS project is an innovative program solely developed by the Taiwanese scholars in year 2003 and has since achieved quite significant success. The second part of this essay gives a brief introduction of the recent changes made to the intellectual property system in Taiwan.
The TIPS project has been promoted at the initiative of the Intellectual Property Office of the Ministry of Economic Affairs in 2003. The main goal of this project is to develop a set of guidelines for managing intellectual property to be implemented by the Taiwanese enterprises. At “developmental stage”, academic journal articles and relevant legislative requirements were gathered; intellectual property management experts were consulted and companies with good and effective intellectual property management practices were interviewed. All of the information and advises were collected and analyzed and formulated into a set of guidelines which basically covers the whole cycle of intellectual property management right starts from its creation, protection, maintenance and exploitation. The types of intellectual property rights managed include patent, trade mark, copyright and trade secret.
A hearing for the draft guidelines was held in 2004. A pilot study was done by selecting eight representative domestic companies in 2005. All the public opinions, comments and advises from the trial companies were collected and used to revise the draft guidelines. The revised guidelines were then formally promulgated on March 23, 2007. The project then entered into a full “promotional stage” where the Science and Technology Law Centered entrusted by The Industrial Development Bureau of the Ministry of Economic Affairs was responsible for promoting the project.
As the fundamental objective of TIPS is to assist companies to establish an effective internal intellectual property management system at relatively low cost, the whole system was developed based upon the ISO 9001:2000 Quality Management Standard. Since the ISO standards are widely recognized and adopted by many Taiwanese enterprises, for an enterprise with ISO system implemented, TIPS can be easily integrated into the existing ISO standards, conflicts between these two systems will be minimized and it will only require minimum organization structural changes and implementation costs.
Further, by incorporating the PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Action) model and “process-oriented approach” of ISO 9001:2000, the IP management processes implemented within an enterprise possess the feature of being able to be continuously improved.
In order to facilitate the promotion and draw more public attention to TIPS, various supplementary measures were introduced:
A collection of 50 questions is provided on the TIPS website3. Once a company has registered as a member of TIPS (simply by filling up some details about the company), it can use these questions to self-assess the effectiveness and adequacy of its existing (if any) IP management infrastructure. After the company has completed all the questions, the on-line tool would automatically generate few suggestions relating to the management of intellectual property based on the answers provided by the company. The company can also find out how they stand among all the enterprises which have taken the assessment previously. The on-line self-assessment tool is the initial step for those companies wanting to know more about TIPS. Once they realize that they are far behind the requirements of an effective IP management system, they can then move on to the next stage to implement TIPS.
Once a company has completed the on-line self-assessment questions, it is then eligible to apply for a more detailed assessment of its internal IP management infrastructure conducted by a qualified IP service consultant. The IP service consultant will interview the managers responsible for managing IP related matters within a company and check relevant internal policies and documents. Concrete advises in relation to the implementation of TIPS will be given based on the inadequacies and problems uncovered during the on-site visit. The cost for the diagnostic and consulting service is fully covered by the government.
Every year since 2004, some model companies are chosen as “demonstrative” companies for the implementation of TIPS. For instance, a total of 14 enterprises were selected as model companies this year. Among these companies, 3 “clusters of enterprises”, each of which contains 3 companies were chosen. The so-called “cluster of enterprises” is a group of companies that can be constituted by companies providing similar products or services within the same industry, or companies having the relationships as suppliers and consumers or companies within the same corporate structure. The introducing of implementing TIPS through “cluster of enterprises” is a promotion strategy that aims to disseminate the TIPS project more effectively and efficiently.
For these selected model companies, certain percentage of the cost for implementing TIPS is subsidized by the government.
After an enterprise has fully implemented TIPS, they can then apply for certification. All the prescribed documents must firstly be sent to the TIPS working team which is responsible for all the administrative works of TIPS. After a formality check, 2 or 3 (depending on the size of the enterprise) IP experts will be chosen to conduct an on-site inspection to determine whether the newly implemented IP management system meets the minimum requirements of TIPS. If the experts are satisfied with the inspection result, a certificate for the compliance of TIPS will be issued by the Industrial Development Bureau (IDB) of the Ministry of Economic Affairs. The certificate serves as government’s assurance to the public that the certified enterprise has at least the minimum ability (evaluated in accordance with government’s standard) to manage and protect its intellectual property.
Three types of courses are provided to train IP management personnel. The basic course is an introductory course, which covers the basic principles of TIPS. The intermediate course called The Practical Implementation Course covers more detailed explanations of TIPS and how it can be implemented into the enterprise. Any person who has completed this course and passed the test will receive a certificate. The advance course called Self-Assessment Course teaches students how to evaluate and determine whether their newly developed IP management system conforms to the TIPS requirements. Again, a person who has completed this course and passed the test will receive a certificate. In order for an enterprise to be eligible to apply for a certificate for the compliance of TIPS, the enterprise must firstly furnish a self-assessment report to be completed by a “qualified person”. Such “qualified person” is the person who has successfully obtained the certificate for the completion of Self-Assessment Course.
The TIPS project has received wide recognition since it first launched in year 2004. To the end of 2008, 297 enterprises have completed the on-line self-assessment questions; 73 companies have received on-site diagnostic and consultation services; 618 persons have taken the IP management courses; 45 enterprises have successfully obtained the certificates for the compliance of TIPS and more than142 enterprises have either completed or in the middle of implementing TIPS.
Benefits of implementing TIPS as reported by TIPS implemented enterprises are summarized as follows:
Implementing TIPS provides an assurance that Company A has adequate ability to protect the technology secrecy belongs to its international client. Company A thus obtained a new purchasing order worth more than NT$ 100 million.
TIPS assists in enhancing the level of trust on the company’s ability to protect its international client’s confidential information. A new purchasing order worth NT $ 30 million is placed by such client.
Through systematic IP management and IP inventory audit, Company C starts to formulate a plan for licensing out its non-core IP assets.
The alignment of R&D and business strategies required by TIPS ensures the accuracy of the R&D direction. The systematic way of managing the R&D projects also reduces the R&D phase to 45 days, saving R&D expenditure by 10%.
Implementing TIPS helps Company E to formulate a more clear and definite IP mapping strategy. Company E plans to implement TIPS into its whole corporate group in 2008.
Systematic IP management has reduced the number of litigation allegations. Company D plans to implement TIPS into every business unit within its corporate structure in 2008.
In answering to the responses receiving from the TIPS implemented enterprises, two new measures are going to be launched in 2009. First, enterprises with effective IP management system and strategies are encouraged to write up an Intellectual Property Management Report summarizing their business, R&D and IP management strategies as well as their accumulated IP assets. Second, an Experience-Sharing Platform is going to be established where enterprises can freely exchange their experiences of managing IP and how to formulate an effective IP management strategy.
Year 2008 can be said to be a significant year for the history of IP development in Taiwan where three completely new legislations have taken effect this year.
The Intellectual Property Court Organization Act4 and the Intellectual Property Case Adjudication Act5 were both promulgated on March 28 2007 and effective as of July 1 under which a new IP Court was established with new laws to govern the adjudication of IP cases. The Patent Attorney Act which governs the qualification and registration of a new patent attorney profession was promulgate on July 11 2007 and effective as of January 11 2008. It is believed that through the commencement of these three new legislations, the accuracy, consistency as well as efficiency of resolving IP-related disputes in Taiwan are going to be significantly improved.
A short introduction for each of the three new legislations is provided below:
A new IP Court was established pursuant to the Intellectual Property Court Organization Act and began to hear cases on July 1 2008. This Court is given jurisdiction to hear first and second instances of a civil action, first instance of an administrative action and the second instance of a criminal action for matters concerning IP rights. For examples, interests arising under the Patent Act, the Trade Mark Act, the Copyright Act, the Trade Secret Act, the Optical Disk Act, the Species of Plants and Seedling Act, the Fair Trade Act and the Regulation Governing the Protection of Integrated Circuits Configurations. Unlike previously, where the validity issues must be determined by the administrative court, the newly established IP Court can hear and decide the validity of an intellectual property right at issue. This will significantly improve the efficiency of resolving an IP dispute.
Eight experienced judges were chosen to sit on the bench of the IP Court. Since most IP related matters involve complex technical issues, nine technical examination officers with various technical backgrounds from the Taiwan Intellectual Property Office were chosen to assist and provide their technical expertise and opinions to the IP Court judges.
The Intellectual Property Case Adjudication Act prescribes rules for adjudicating IP-related disputes. The Act recommends to try an IP infringement case through a 3-step processes. First, to determine the validity of an IP right. Second, to determine whether an IP right has been infringed and finally, to calculate the damages. The IP Court may at any state dismiss the case if it finds the IP right at issue is invalid or not infringed. In order to avoid unnecessary efforts spent on determining whether an IP right is infringed if such right is in fact invalid, the Act requires the IP Court to determine whether a right is infringed only after the invalidity defense raised by the defendant is dismissed.
The Intellectual Property Case Adjudication Act also introduces the criteria used by the US courts to determine whether a preliminary injunction order should be granted. Before the enactment of this new Act, the requirements for granting preliminary injunction in Taiwan were quite loose as the court could grant a preliminary injunction order without firstly reviewing the merit of the case. The new adopted US criteria require the judges to determine the likelihood of success on the merits of the case; whether a substantial threat of irreparable damage or injury would be caused if injunction is not granted; the balance of harms weighs in favor of the party seeking the preliminary injunction and the impact of the decision on public interest. As the criteria become stricter, it is believed that less preliminary injunctions will be granted. A plaintiff seeking a preliminary injunction order in the future shall put in more efforts in preparing evidences and reasons arguing that an injunction maintaining the status quo is necessary.
As most IP litigation cases involve matters concerning confidential information or trade secrets, which are often crucial for the survival of an enterprise, the Intellectual Property Case Adjudication Act introduces a protective order into practice to preserve the confidentiality of specific information given by parties to the suit or a third party. A party to the suit or a third party can apply to the court to issue a protective order restraining the accessibility to the protected confidential information and restraining those who have accessed to the confidential information from disclosing it to others. Any intentional violation of the protective order is subject to a criminal liability.
It is expected that by introducing the protective order, confidential information or trade secret holder may become more willing to reveal such information, which may assist improving the accuracy of resolving the disputes between parties.
Unlike the US court system, Taiwan, a civil law country, does not have discovery or Markman hearing procedures. Before the enactment of the Intellectual Property Case Adjudication Act, even though a judge can ask the parties to preserve evidences for the use of the trial, the judge is however, given no authority of compulsory execution. A party can refuse to comply with the judge’s request without any legal consequence. The new Act now provides compulsory execution of an evidence preservation order. Parties who are subject to the evidence preservation order are obligated to comply with the order. Furthermore, the judge may also request assistance from technical examiners or police department to provide advises.
The Patent Attorney Act sets the requirements for becoming a qualified patent attorney in Taiwan. According to the Act, patent attorneys should be specialized in both technology and patent regulations. A candidate must firstly pass the Patent Attorney Eligibility Examination, followed by a period of prevocational training, such candidate is then able to register with the Taiwan Intellectual Property Office and join the Patent Attorneys Association. It is hoped that by introducing the new patent attorney profession, the quality of patent applications will be improved and thus reduce the ever increasing workload of patent examiners.
The initiative of the TIPS project, the establishment of the IP court and the newly implemented patent attorney system all demonstrate the government’s determination to create a more sound and efficient environment for the protection of intellectual property. The overwhelming success of the TIPS project evidenced by the number of enterprises implementing the system indicates that Taiwanese companies are self-motivated, able to see the importance of intellectual property as their main source of competiveness and are ready and willing to move into the next stage of “innovative” management. It is believed that through the government’s pragmatic and foresight policies coupled with the adventurous and hard work spirits possessed by the local enterprises, Taiwan will eventually reach its goal of becoming a “green silicon island”, creating another “economic miracle”.
Along with Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea.
http://www.asianinfo.org/asianinfo/taiwan/pro-economy.htm (last visited: 12/31/2008)
TIPS website: http://www.tips.org.tw/
http://www.taie.com.tw/English/970520a.pdf (last visited: 12/3132008)
http://www.taie.com.tw/English/970520a.pdf (last visited: 12/3132008)
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.A Survey Study on the Intellectual Property Management amongst Taiwanese Companies
J. Kitty Huang Chien-Shan Chiu Background In order to provide insight into intellectual property (IP) awareness, the status quo as well as potential hardship and demands arise over IP management, STLC was commissioned by IDB (Industrial Development Bureau) to conduct a survey study in June 2010. In this article, we provide briefings on the contents, research methodology and major findings of this study. About the research The survey questionnaire was sent by means of emails or posts to a total of 1000 business establishments randomly generated from the registration data facilitated by the Ministry of Economic Affairs. This was also the first time that such a survey has been envisaged on such a comprehensive scale, covering businesses located around Taiwan with the aim being to produce an in-depth analysis into IP management in various industries including manufacturing, precision machineries, photonics, bio-medicals, info-techs, semiconductors etc. Sixty-five percent of the respondents have less than fifty employees and the overall response rate achieved was 13.1%.1 A continuing need to strengthen IP awareness is required The first section of the questionnaire dealing with IP awareness gauged respondent companies IP knowledge and understanding through a series of questions relating to IP law and practice. When asked whether formal registration was necessary to obtain a range of intellectual property rights (IPRs), over 70% of companies replied with correct answers, namely patents, designs and trademarks. However, through other questions at a more advanced level, the responses revealed a general lack of knowledge in IP law and hence a continuing need to strengthen IP awareness is required. For instance, overall 70% of companies know that obtaining patents will require formal registration, yet surprisingly even of these over 50% incorrectly thought the manners of patent utilization, such as making products, will not result in infringing others IPRs. This result arguably suggests that respondents are in the main unaware that a patent does not give the patent owner the right to exploit the patented invention himself, but rather, he has only the “exclusive right” to stop others from doing so. For another instance, whilst 32% of respondents inaccurately thought that a formal registration is required to obtain copyrights, nonetheless this does not equate to the result being a near 70% of companies have a full and correct knowledge in regard to copyright. When faced with a slightly more obscure question of who would own the copyright in commissioned work (such as website creation) in the absence of a contract, 26% of companies didn’t know and 30% answered incorrectly. On the same token, though only 10% of respondents erroneously believed that trade secrets would require a formal registration, when asked whether the company’s client list may be a trade secret, the number of correct replies (61%) drops sharply when compared to the previous one. Though intended as a question to discriminate at the upper levels of trade secret awareness, the replies are more likely to reflect a lack comprehension of the subject among Taiwanese companies. The important message arise from the overall scales in the first section of the survey is that the need for IP awareness promotion and enhancement amongst companies in Taiwan still exists. Lack of IP expertise is a major barrier In the second section of the questionnaire companies were asked a series of questions which were intended to measure the status quo through the extent of IP management practices. Perhaps one would agree that the issue of perceptions of the importance of IP to a company is greatly linked to how effective it manages them. When asked to indicate reasons as to why IP is important to their business, the replies were rather polarized. The two most popular reasons were “means to differentiate from competitors” (33%) and “to prevent infringement” (30%). The distinction between the two is clearly that the former reason is relatively active and strategic whilst the latter is perceived to be passive and defensive. On the other hand, “to retrieve the cost of R&D” (4%) and “to attract more investors” (5%) are least likely to be seen as the reasons why IP is important to them. The results may suggest that generally speaking, Taiwanese companies tended not to utilize their IP to generate revenues nor correlate them with the business strategies, but rather, see them more of a shield to avoid infringement. Companies were asked what IPRs they own and the most common ones are trademarks (21%) and utility patents (20%), with invention patents (14%) being the third on the rank. In contrast only 2% of respondent companies own copyrights. While such result may be attributed to the overall structure of the industry, it may also link to the observation that most companies not merely lack the comprehension of copyrights but may also not be aware of owning such IPR. Furthermore, it is also surprising to find that 45% of respondents do not own any IPRs. The absence of IPRs within these companies is perhaps a key indication of poor awareness and inactive management of IPRs amongst many Taiwanese companies. To measure the extent of IP management is not easy as the intensity of it differs both by sector and by size. Therefore, the task is achieved through 9 questions designed on the concept of PDCA (plan-do-check-act) process which would allow the respondents to review and find out any inadequacy in their IP management as they proceed. One would expect that those companies with effective IP management would take care to evaluate the various IPRs required at different time intervals. Whilst all of the answer choices are considered to be “important timings”, for example “when planning for new skills/products/business” and “when further investment in IP would enhance defense (such as infringement prevention); yet the results revealed that over 60% of the companies did not perform such evaluation at whatever timing. This may suggest that in general, companies in Taiwan are inadequately concerned with the evaluation process within their management of IP. Such a result may consequently make them ignoring means to prevent infringement (such as checking competitors’ IPRs and prior-art search) or pay attention to regulation updates. Effective IP management indisputably requires certain monetary inputs. Companies were asked whether they have regularly spent on obtaining and maintaining IPRs the firm owns, and remarkably only about 36% of respondents answered this question. In addition the companies were asked about how much they spent on “application fees”2,“incentives offered to inventors”, “spending on HR” and “other expense”. Only a paltry 6% of all respondent companies spent on all the abovementioned categories and mostly up to the amount of NT$100,000 (roughly USD$3300) per each. Linked with the spending on IPRs is perhaps whether companies have designated staff responsible for managing IPRs or have a separate IP department. Again, 70% of respondents replied negatively to this question and only 10% of some larger companies (with over 200 employees) have specific personnel or department designated to assume this responsibility. The results may indicate a general lack of expertise in managing IPRs as a barrier to leveraging full value of them as well as making proper legal decision in the event of IP related disputes Companies were asked how to protect their IPRs through a variety of methods of protection though the majority (over 72%) didn’t implement any of them. The most highly identified method being “protect core skills by patents”, however, only 35% of companies adopted such protection. Furthermore, roughly 76% of the companies did not conduct training in IP issues for employees, and over 75% did not attempt to assess the efficiency of their management of IP. The explanation to the above is conceivably a general lack of IP expertise due to inadequate monetary inputs as well as perceived high costs for IP specialists within the company. The results ultimately reflect an inefficient execution of IP management in the massive Taiwanese companies. Most companies have only limited resources The final aspect of IP management that has been surveyed is the hardships occurred and accordingly the resources sought to solve them. When asked what are the major difficulties in the process of managing IP, the most common answers were “high expenditure on filing and maintenance” (18%), “lack of professional advice” (15%) and “regulatory complexity” (15%). These results are arguably all related to the facts already discussed in the afore-mentioned paragraphs. In general, the survey revealed that most companies have only limited resources and therefore highly demand external aids such as government funding or projects to help soften the hardships and improve their management skills. Accordingly, “unifying resources for enhancing IP management through a mutual platform” (22%) and “facilitate industry peer networks” (21%) being the most popular resources sought. Furthermore, 14% of the respondents indicated their urge to receive “on-site expert assistance”, and a remarkable 90% of the respondents have never been aware of the TIPS (Taiwan Intellectual Property Management System) project, which is one initiated by the government to help companies set up a systematic IP management system. As a result, efforts to promote the TIPS project should be further devoted as the initial step to assist companies strengthen their IP awareness and management skills. Conclusion The results of the survey present the status quo of IP management amongst the companies in Taiwan which is proportionally consistent with their IP awareness as well as hardships and resources sought. The present study shows what one might expect, that is larger companies tend to be more IP aware and have greater resources to manage their IPRs, whilst the rest of others (especially SMEs) are in the main inadequately aware of IP, which is crucial to enhance active IP management within and throughout their firms. While various resources are highly demanded, perhaps the government should firstly take steps to promote that awareness within and throughout their organizations. Linked with this is the second important point which is that further promotion of the TIPS project should be aimed at not only enhancing IP awareness but also assisting companies to better manage their IPRs. IP management is essential to preserve IP created by companies and the TIPS system would enable companies to foster and strengthen key aspects of IP management such as conduct training in IP issues for employees, evaluate various IPRs required, etc. Some of the complementary measures as such expert consultations and TIPS networks or seminars would also help to alleviate some of the hardships encountered in the process of managing IP. On the other hand, like the “Survey on Business Attitudes to Intellectual Property” being conducted yearly in Hong Kong since year 2004, it is suggested that the present survey research or the alike to be continually carried out to assist promoting IP awareness within Taiwan industry. Finally, we would like to thank everyone who contributed to this survey research and hope that it provides valuable insight into the goals originally proposed. 1.The survey resulted in 157 replies from which 26 of them were nullified by false or incomplete answers. 2.Application fees” include fees occurred from exploring inventions up to application and maintenance, which also include attorney fees.Mainland China changes domestic regulation for game consoles
In 2000, the General Office of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China issued “the Notice on Launching a Special Campaign against Illegal Electronic Game Rooms”(國務院辦公廳轉發文化部等部門關於開展電子遊戲經營場所專項治理意見的通知). From then on, Mainland China has strictly enforced prohibition on gaming consoles, however in December 21, 2013, “the State Council released the Comprehensive Plan for the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone, the State Council’s Decision to Temporarily Adjust Relevant Administrative Laws and State Council Regulated Special Administrative Measures for Approval or Access in the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone”(國務院關於在中國(上海)自由貿易試驗區內暫時調整有關行政法規和國務院文件規定的行政審批或者准入特別管理措施的決定). As a result of the thirteen year long prohibition on game consoles, the development of the game consoles market has been limited in Mainland China, while mobile phone and online games have dominated the video games market in the country. Mainland China’s lifting of the ban on game consoles will lead to a reshuffling of the gaming market, and is certainly worth a deeper look. This following article will review the evolution of the gaming regulatory policy in Mainland China over the recent years, and identifies the changes and problems that may arise during the deregulation process. The sale of game consoles has been prohibited in Mainland China since 2000 According to “The Notice on Launching a Special Campaign against Illegal Electronic Game Rooms” issued by General Office of the State Council in 2000, “companies and individuals were prohibited from the manufacture or sale of game consoles, as well as the production or sale of related accessories”. As a result, the mobile game consoles and the television game consoles both lost their legitimacy in the video game industry in Mainland China. The stated intent of the ban against video arcades was to protect the youth and ensure public order. And yet, in spite of potentially impacting youth in a similar manner, the online game sector has been listed as a key industry for development and has been strongly supported by the government. This has clearly contradicted the reason of banning the game consoles. Thus, the major console manufacturers, Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo, have been trying in various ways to enter the Chinese market, and have called on the Mainland China government to open their domestic market for the sale of game consoles. Announcement of reopening the sale of game consoles in China (Shanghai) Free Trade Zone in 2013. After thirteen long years, the State Council issued the “the Comprehensive Plan for the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone”, permitting foreign enterprises to produce and sell game equipment in the Free Trade Zone. Five days later, Blockbuster that under Shanghai Media Group announced a cooperation with Microsoft in a joint venture company within the Free Trade Zone, claiming their main business as " design, development, production games, entertainment applications and derivative products; sales, licensing, marketing and production for third-party games and entertainment applications software; technical advice and services related to video games ". In December 21, 2013, “the State Council released the Comprehensive Plan for the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone, the State Council’s Decision to Temporarily Adjust Relevant Administrative Laws and State Council Regulated Special Administrative Measures for Approval or Access in the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone”, officially lifted the prohibition on game consoles in the Free Trade Zone, and also opened the gates to investors. Potential problems facing China’s game consoles market As the case study above describes, Microsoft chose to enter the Mainland China market through a joint venture, the main reason being that foreign investment in entities engaged in internet data operations is still prohibited in China (Shanghai) Free Trade Zone. Thus, Microsoft will need to rely heavily on Blockbuster for the data operation and set-top box business license, which was the main subject as the Internet service content provider. In addition, apart from the joint venture between Blockbuster and Microsoft, there are two other companies in the industry: Sony and Nintendo, which retain a large part of the game consoles market, but have not taken action at the moment. These two companies have a pivotal position in the game consoles industry, and therefore it is predicted they will likely follow the Blockbuster and Microsoft example to look for a license holder vendor as a way to enter the mainland China market. On the other hand, at the end of June 2014 the updated announcement regarding the China (Shanghai) Free Trade Zone “negative list”, still clearly stated that foreign enterprises in the Free Trade Zone are “prohibited from direct or indirect participation in online game operations and services”. Due to the trend among game consoles towards online connectivity, the classification of related games as online games, and prohibition of foreign enterprises from entering this space, domestic game developers have enjoyed a safe monopoly over the industry in Mainland China. But if the industry is not restricted under the scope of foreign operation of online games, and foreign enterprises may be allowed involvement in the management of their operations directly or indirectly, “fully localized” online game industry in Mainland China may be challenged in a noticeable way. In addition, although Mainland China has begun to loosen control over game consoles, the publication of electronic publications licensed by a foreign copyright owner (including online gaming works) will be determined under the General Administration of Press and Publication (新聞出版廣電總局). An enterprise who wishes to enter the Mainland China market has to create content which is able to pass a content review, at the same time maintaining the original integrity of the game. Moreover, consumers in Mainland China have long been accustomed to "cheap" or "free" Internet games, so are they going to change their behavior and be willing to pay for their games? These are big obstacles to be overcome by the industry.A Preliminary Study on The Legal Effect of the Blockchain-Generated Data in Taiwan
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.  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