A Preliminary Study on The Legal Effect of the Blockchain-Generated Data in Taiwan
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.
 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.
 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
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 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
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 Article 80 of the Notary Act.
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Background Taiwan industries have been facing an increasing pressure from the competitive global market. To assist the Taiwan industries, the Government has approved the “National Intellectual Property Strategy Guideline” (the “Guideline”) on 17 October 2012. The Guideline stipulates six major strategies and twenty-seven relevant enforcement criteria in relation to intellectual property (“IP”). The six major strategies are as follows: (a) creation and utilization of high-value patents; (b) enforcing cultural integrity; (c) creation of high agricultural value; (d) support free flow of IP for academics; (e) support system of IP trade flows and protection; and (f) develop highly qualified personnel in IP. Under the “innovation of high-value patents” strategy, the relevant enforcement criterion, being “establishing academia-industry collaborative system for IP management”, is to support the Taiwan’s current and future technology development program on R&D planning, IP management and technology commercialization. In other words, this enforcement criterion can greatly improve the ambiguity and inadequacy of Taiwan’s research infrastructure which have caused inefficient research operation. Furthermore, this enforcement criterion can also improve network collaboration between organizations on IP management, allowing more efficient process for managing IP and thus achieving the purpose of “creation and utilization of high-value patent”. In light of the above, this article studies Japan’s practice on integrating the IP network resources and improving their IP management under the University Network IP Advisors Program (“IP Advisors Program”). University Network IP Advisors Framework Outline A. Policy background, goals and methodology National Center for Industrial Property Information and Training (“INPIT”) initiated the IP Advisors Program and commissioned Japan Institute for Promoting Invention and Innovation (“JIII”) to implement and carry out the new policy in year 2011. Prior to the implementation of the new policy by JIII, INPIT has assisted with establishing proper IP management systems for more than 60 Japanese universities by dispatching IP experts and advisors (“IP Advisors”) to each of the universities during 2002 to March 2011. After the implementation of the initial policy, review has suggested that by expanding the network collaboration, such as establishing intervarsity IP information sharing system within their university networks, the universities can fully aware of and identify technologies that were created by them and are beneficial to the industrial sector. In addition, expanding the network collaboration can also help the universities to quickly develop mechanisms that will enable them properly protect and utilize their acquired IP rights. Accordingly, after 2011, the initial policy has expanded its scope and became the current IP Advisors Program. Japan is expected to improve its nation’s ability to innovate and create new technologies. To attain this goal, Japan has identified that the basis for industry-academia-government R&D consortiums is through obtaining information on universities’ and other academic organizations’ research technologies and IP so that Japan can appropriately place these universities in the appropriate wide-area network. This will allow the universities within the wide-area network to establish IP management policy to properly protect and utilize their IP rights. The current IP Advisors Program is conducted through application from the universities in established wide-area network to JIII. Upon review of the application, JIII will then dispatch the IP Advisor to the applicant university of that wide-area network. IP Advisors not only can provide solutions to general IP related problems, they can also provide professional advice and service on how to establish and operate IP management system for all the universities within the wide-area network. B. IP advisors’ role In principle, IP Advisors are stationed to the Administrative School or Major Supporting School within the wide-area network. IP Advisors can be dispatched to other member schools (“Member Schools”) or provide telephone inquiry service by answering IP related questions. In other words, IP Advisors are not stationed in any Member Schools to manage their IP management affairs, rather, IP Advisors advise or instruct the IP managers of the Member Schools on how to establish and utilize IP management system based on the Member School’s infrastructure. The contents of IP Advisors roles listed are as follows: (a) Assist with activities within the wide-area network. 1. assist with establishing information sharing system between universities within the wide-area network; 2. assist with solving region-based or technology-based IP problems; 3. provide inquiry service for planning activities within wide-area network; and 4. provide inquiry service on other wide-area networks activities planning. (b) Provide services for Member Schools (Type 1) with undeveloped IP management system. 1. investigate or analyze the available IP management system in the Member Schools; 2. assist with drafting a plan to establish IP management system (through an assisting role) and provide instructions or advices accordingly; 3. direct personnel training (i.e. provide education on invention evaluation, assessment on applying for patent and contracts); 4. advocate different regimes of IP; and 5. collect relevant information on new developing technologies. (c) Provide services for Member Schools (Type 1) with developed IP management system 1. investigate or analyze the available IP management system in the Member Schools; 2. provide advices or instructions on the application of IP management department; 3. provide advices or instructions for solving IP management problems; 4. direct personnel training (i.e. provide education on invention evaluation, assessment on applying for patent and contracts); 5. advocate different regimes of IP; and 6. gather relevant information on new developing technologies. (d) Provide services for Member Schools (Type 2) 1.Share and exchange information through network conference. C. Recruitment process and criteria JIII adopts an open recruitment process without a set number of allocated IP Advisor positions. Working location is based in Member Schools of wide-area network in Japan. In principle, IP Advisors are stationed in Administrative Schools or Major Supporting Schools within the wide-area network and can only provide telephone inquiry service or temporary assignment for assistance to the Member Schools (Type 1). However, it is noted that IP Advisors do not belong to any specific university within the wide-area network, they are employed by JIII under an exclusive contract. Based on 2013 example, IP Advisors’ employment contract started from 1 April 2013 and expires on 31 March 2014. IP Advisors’ salary and travelling expenses are paid by JIII. However, expenses for Members School (Type 1) establishing a working environment and any other disbursements should be paid by the Member School (Type 1). Furthermore, under the implementation of the current policy with respect to IP Advisors who are unable to comply with the new criteria, previous contract is considered as a non-periodical contract for the IP Advisors to continue to station in the university. However, if IP Advisor is stationed in a specific university, it must be limited to a maximum of 3 years. Due to the IP Advisors’ work, they must comply with the privacy law and keep any obtained information confidential. D. IP advisors’ qualification 1. Require a high level of professional knowledge on IP management system IP Advisor candidates must have relevant experience working in the industry with IP management system department, operation planning department, R&D department (collectively refer as “IP Management Related Departments”). 2. Have relevant experience in directing trainings in IP Management Related Departments IP Advisor candidates must have the ability to train personnel in IP Management. 3. Can provide IP strategies based on the demands. IP Advisor candidates must have the ability to plan and utilize IP strategies to achieve optimal outcomes in R&D base on the circumstances and needs of different universities. 4. Have referral from the supervisors. IP Advisor candidates who are currently employed must be able to obtain a referral from their current positions’ supervisor, IP manager or personnel from higher up. IP Advisor candidates who are current unemployed must be able to obtain a referral from their previous employment. E. IP advisors’ selection process Based on JIII’s “University Network IP Advisors Adopted Standards” (“Adopted Standards”), IP Advisors are selected first through written application followed by interview. After a comprehensive assessment, all qualified candidates will be compared based on their compatibility of the essential criteria and other non-essential criteria, and finally selecting the most suitable candidate for the wide-area network. F. Application criteria for IP advisors services 1.Common requirements for Member Schools of wide-area network (a) must be an university or educational organization pursuant to the School Education Act (No. 26 of 1947) and must be able to conduct research and have set number of entry students and graduates per year;and (b) university must have developed IP related technology or design. 2. Criteria for wide-area network (a) Must have minimum of 3 and maximum of 8 Member Schools (Type 1) and 10 or less Member Schools (Type 2) combined, and have Member School (Type 1) entering wide-area network; (b) Must clearly state the nature of network as region-based or technology-based; (c) With Administrative School as base, the network must have collaborative system to plan network events; (d) Administrative School must be able to propose and carry out network events which can benefit Member Schools (Type 1) and the society through annual business plan. (e) Must be capable to provide indirect assistance to IP Advisors who are limited by time and region such that there is a proper environment to conduct wide-area network events. 3. Entry requirement for Member Schools (Type 1) (a) Must include in the university’s policy that they will become a Member School (Type 1) in the network and provide assistance to IP Advisors accordingly; (b) IP management and IP utilization system must be clearly implemented; (c) must clearly state the scope of responsibility in relation to the collaboration with the Administration School; (d) Propose and carry out an annual business plan which can improve IP management and utilization system to a certain level on their own; and (e) Has the facility to allow IP Advisors to provide assistance and service. 4. Entry requirement for Member Schools (Type 2) (a) Must include in the university’s policy that they will become a Member School (Type 2); (b) Same as paragraph F(3)(b) in this article; and (c) Same as paragraph F(3)(c) in this article. G. Current status quo The original aim was to establish the initial IP Advisors Program to assist with university’s IP management system by dispatching IP Advisors to 60 and more universities from 2002 to March 2011. The current wide-area university network IP Advisors Program started on April 2011. Since then, JIII has dispatched IP Advisors to 8 wide-area networks. In addition, IP Advisors have also been dispatched to wide-area network with art and design colleges/universities. During year 2011, IP Advisors has achieved and completed several IP management policies as follows: 7 IP policies, 3 academia-industry collaboration policies, 2 conflicting interest policies and 2 collaborative research policies etc. Recommendation This article is based on a legal perspective view point, taking Japan’s IP Advisors Program as a reference to provide the following recommendations on the topic of network for academia-industry collaboration in Taiwan. A. Separate levels of collaboration base on needs Using Japan’s policy as an example, universities within the wide-area network require different content of services tailored to each university individually, and the universities can be categorized into two types of member schools based to the content of services. Accordingly, it is recommended that the Government should consider a similar approach to the Japan’s policy when establishing IP management alliance and forming network of IP management system. For instance, design different levels of content and collaboration, and thus expand collaboration targets to gradually include major legal research institute, technology transfer centre for universities, and IP services in northern, center and southern area of Taiwan. This will allow collaboration of these organizations to coordinate IP programs such as IP northern, application and utilization with ease. B. Emphasis on the idea of establishing and maintaining IP basic facilities Based on Japan’s past experience, it is recommended that before expanding IP Advisors related policy to solve regional IP problems, universities must first be assisted to improve their own IP management system, which has taken Japan almost 10 years to improve their universities’ IP management system. From the current IP management system policy, it can be observed that the establishment of IP management system has a certain relevant importance. Furthermore, there is an emphasis on IP Advisors’ experience in training IP managers. Accordingly, it is recommended that the Government in future planning of network IP collaborate system should set short term and long term goal flexibly, such that the basic IP facilities within the members of the network can develop continuously. For example, short term goal for a legal research institute can be growing to a certain size for it to adjust or implement IP related policies. As for longer term goal, it can be a requirement to set up a unit or department to operate and manage IP. C. Expanding the definition of ‘Networks” Taiwan and Japan are high populated country on an island with limited land. Thus, if Taiwan and Japan insist on maintaining the geographic position for networking concept and adopting such concept on the regional economics for cluster effects, then it is difficult for Taiwan and Japan to compete with American Silicon Valley or other overseas universities. In light of the above, on establishing network of IP collaborative system, the Government should take reference from Japan’s practice in 2012 and combine same industry such as medicine industry or art industry in the definition of network. This will accelerate the integration of IP experience, information, and operation management capability within the network of same industry. Conclusion In conclusion, in order to establish academia-industry IP collaboration system and efficiently improve Taiwan’s IP management system in research organizations, first must focus on various policies tailored for different levels of collaboration so that it can be integrated and expand the integration of IP resources such that there is a good foundation to develop IP basic facilities. Following the establishment of good IP foundation, it can then be further develop to more complex IP programs such as IP landscape, planning and strategizing etc.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.Review of Singapore IP Dispute Resolution Development
Review of Singapore IP Dispute Resolution Development Preface In recent years, advantage of capital and productivity are not enough for company to stand out from the business battle. Innovation and creation become the driver of business growth. Intellectual Property (“IP”) Right turns out to be the power to boost international competitiveness. In March 2013, Singapore submitted 10-year IP Hub Master Plan to guide Singapore’s development as a Global IP Hub in Asia. Six Strategies are identified from IP Hub Master Plan. This article focuses on strategy 4, developing Singapore as a choice venue for IP dispute resolution through a strong IP Court and deep IP alternative dispute resolution capabilities, to understand how Singapore attracts various stakeholders and hence create a hive of IP activities by adopting tailored processes to facilitate the resolution of IP cases and promoting alternative dispute resolution. Key Points of IP Dispute Resolution When it comes to IP issue, oblige will take either marketplace or area of IP application into account for choosing jurisdiction of dispute resolution. The major IP war occurs in America and China. Although Singapore deals with less IP case, the government considers itself as a transparent, efficient and neutral justice system, coupling with lots of transnational divisions in Singapore, which creates an opportunity to develop IP dispute resolution. To achieve the goal, Singapore puts its hand to enhance capabilities of IP Court and IP alternative dispute resolution for bringing more IP litigations and IP alternative dispute resolution to Singapore. 1. Enhance Capabilities of IP Court (1) Efficiencize Processes In September 2013, the Registrar of the Supreme Court released Circular 2 of 2013 on the issuance of the IP Court Guide, which will apply to all cases under the IP docket of the Supreme Court with immediate effect. An IP Judge will be assigned to hear all interlocutory appeals, milestone pre-trial conferences (“PTCs”) and the trial on liability. The IP Court Guide provides for two milestone PTCs before set down for trial whereby the lead counsel must personally attend to address the IP Judge on certain specified issues. All other PTCs will be heard by the senior assistant registrar managing the IP docket. Subject to certain exceptions, an assistant registrar will hear all interlocutory applications arising in each IP case. In addition, to support the IP Court’s adjudication functions, the IP Court Guide provides for the appointment of assessors (for technical expertise) and amicus curiae (for legal expertise) for IP cases. Parties are encouraged to propose a single candidate by agreement. Otherwise, parties should agree on and propose a shortlist of candidates. Due to improvement, it is more convenient for parties to track trail status. For IP Judges, they can get familiar with cases and related evidence through PCTs before entering trail process. On the whole, this change increases trail efficiency and quality. (2) Set Up Singapore International Commercial Court The Ministry of Law proposed amendments to the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore and the Supreme Court Judicature Act in October 2014. The new legislation and regulations laid the foundation of Singapore International Commercial Court (“SICC”), which was set up in January 2015. The SICC, the only one International Commercial Court in Asia, is a division of the Singapore High Court and part of the Supreme Court of Singapore designed to deal with transnational commercial disputes including business issues and patent suits. Key Features of the SICC: A. SICC matters will be heard by a Panel comprising High Court Judges, associate Judges and foreign associate Judges with extensive experience and highly regarded reputation. B. A party may be represented by a registered foreign counsel without any involvement of local Singapore counsel if the matter in question is considered to be an “offshore case”. An “offshore case” is defined in the amended Rules of Court as a case which has no substantial connection to Singapore either because (i) Singapore law is not the law applicable to the dispute and the subject matter of the dispute is not regulated by or otherwise subject to Singapore law, or (ii) The only connection between the dispute and Singapore are the parties’ choice of Singapore as the law applicable to the dispute and the parties’ submission to the SICC’s jurisdiction (“Singapore Law-only Connection”). C. The SICC will hear cases governed by Singapore law and by foreign law, with the Court taking judicial notice of the foreign law. In addition, the SICC is not bound by the domestic rules of evidence at all and may apply other rules of evidence whether they are found in a foreign law or otherwise, if the parties make an application for it. 2.Strengthen Capabilities of IP Alternative Dispute Resolution Singapore International Arbitration Center (“SIAC”) and the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center Singapore Office were set up respectively in 1991 and 2001 to strengthen capabilities of IP arbitration. On the basis of these two centers, in order to enrich alternative dispute resolution, Singapore also established Singapore International Mediation Center (“SIMC”) and launched the service of arbitration-mediation-arbitration (“Arb-Med-Arb”) in November 2014. Arb-Med-Arb is a process where a dispute is referred to arbitration before mediation is attempted. If the parties are able to settle their dispute through mediation, their mediated settlement may be recorded as a consent award. If the parties are unable to settle their dispute through mediation, they may continue with the arbitration proceedings. Arb-Med-Arb is definitely a better way for parties to reach a consensus on a dispute since arbitration is more costly and mediation is less powerful. Conclusion The SIMC and the SIAC are now collectively working on mediation, Arb-Med-Arb and arbitration and providing various IP alternative dispute resolutions. Moreover, the SICC and IP Court are charged with IP litigation. These make Singapore a comprehensive IP dispute resolution system. In the process of revolution, Singapore puts itself up to breakthrough as to amendments and the Supreme Court Judicature Act, which establish legitimacy of SICC. The government also defines IP dispute resolution services, such as SIMC’s mediation, Arb-Med-Arb, arbitration as well as SICC features. Nevertheless, other than SIAC, SICC decision may be difficult to enforce transnationally due to lack of legislation. To sum up, Singapore earns recognition for aggressively proposing amendments and assigning responsibilities after setting IP target and evaluating obstacles; however, it is better to pay special attention to that if the market can keep up with administrative efficiency or if the IP strategy could accord with the demands of the market.The Development of Non-Drama TV Programs in Taiwan and the Protection of Intellectual Property Rights
The Development of Non-Drama TV Programs in Taiwan and the Protection of Intellectual Property Rights With the advancement of an era of digital content, the industrial structure of the audio-visual content industry has gradually changed. The production and sales channels of audio-visual content have appeared to trend toward diversification. Emerging content channels or new media have replaced traditional TV stations. The transmission speed of digitized content is faster than the traditional media, which has become an output opportunity for the content of Taiwan in the international market. In the field of drama programs, there have been cases of successful global output, and international cooperation and export models have been gradually discovered. By contrast, non-drama TV programs of Taiwan still remain in the traditional production mode in lack of creation of new content or funds, as well as talents for production and international marketing, which leads to a vicious circle of industrial stagnation or even regression. 1. Problems with domestic non-drama TV programs Funding is the first issue that needs to be resolved. "Due to the lack of money, the only thing that can be done is producing programs that no one wants to watch." Such a condition exists day after day that causes the entire non-drama programs to be depressed, and few people are willing to invest. By contrast, in China or South Korea, the linkage of its variety shows brings about the development of the content industry, and the benefits are amazing. The willingness to spend money on the investment at its initial stage is an essential element of success. However, if there is no successful case, it may not be easy to solely rely on Taiwanese private funds. As far as the technical level of TV program production is concerned, it is particularly important to modelize TV programs if they are to be exported. The market transaction of international TV program formats has existed for many years, but the object of the transaction is the core content and production process of TV programs, that is, the TV program bible. For non-drama TV programs of our country, if it needs to sum up the core of the program in one sentence, it is not impossible to achieve. However, it still lacks the core content such as the famous tv show "THE Voice" that is sufficient to attract people. In addition, in terms of production, how to edit as well as integrate the stage and supporting design into the shooting so to present attractive programs is the relatively lacking part in TV programs of our country. As for the cultivation of talents, Taiwan has yet rarely relevant talents who are able to research, develop, and independently write the TV program bible, as well as do marketing. By contrast, China has achieved remarkable results in TV programs in recent years. They have some consultant companies that specialize in writing a TV program bible for production companies. Their R&D personnel record details by following and observing the directors, producers, and photographers, of which the records gradually become a TV program bible. Some talents in China have mastered the art of writing TV program formats. They can even directly disassemble well-known foreign formats and rewrite them as Chinese versions for production, which has achieved success. 2. Overview of international TV program formats Taking a broad view of the status of foreign TV program formats, it is found that the output of creative development is not in the countries with big entertainment industries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, and France, but in small European countries such as the Netherlands and Israel, which have a large number of output of TV program formats. The Netherlands and Israel are not countries where the television industry is prosperous. However, their TV program output occupies an important position in the global market. Some programs have even produced more than 1,000 episodes in the world, with the output to countries including the United States, China and others. Similar to Taiwan, Netherlandish and Israeli TV programs are also faced with great limitations in production funds due to the small domestic market. However, many TV programs have been created by relying on the novel program content and taking full account of the needs of the international market. In the international trade market of TV program formats, if you intend to successfully output a program, it not only contains a novel main idea, but also covers production and viewing. The output carrier of TV program formats is the "TV Format Bible". Its content includes various links of program rundown, personnel settings, camera lenses, sound effects and lighting, etc. As long as the program has a fixed existing model, no matter who plays the roles in the program, the quality of the program can be kept stable. This kind of production of non-drama TV programs according to the TV Format Bible is called TV Format. 3. Protection of huge business opportunities of formats: preservation and authorization management of intellectual property rights The core value of formats often lies in the creative part of the content. How to effectively preserve the creativity and at the same time to claim the rights are of the most concern by ideators, and the carrier of modelizing creation is the "TV Format Bible". The writing of the "TV Format Bible" is based on the thinking of TV Format structure. At the creative stage, the core content will be integrated into the production level, including how to set up the lighting and the arrangement of the camera to achieve the entertainment effect of the creative core content and other details. However, the value of the "TV Format Bible" comes from the ideation of creativity, and whether creativity is to be protected by law has been controversial since always. Judging from the results of the current judgments on disputed cases concerning the TV Format, the more specific the TV Program Bible is written, the higher chance it has to be protected. A successful variety show not only can bring about the domestic and foreign income from the show itself, but associated derivatives such as music, tourism, and peripheral products may also be able to obtain huge business opportunities due to the broadcast of the program. Therefore, although the TV Program Format is centered on its content, it actually involves issues of industrial management such as human resources, labor relations, corporate governance, taxation, fundraising, bankruptcy procedures, economic systems, and professional ethics. In addition, in aspects of commerce, marketing and management aspects, matters such as the establishment of the production team, the production process management, the acquisition and use of creation funds, and valuation are all covered in the operation of formats.