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Taiwan: Efforts to Expedite Patent Processing

(Apr. 5, 2012) Beginning on March 1, 2012, Taiwan launched a six-month trial program, the “Taiwan-Supporting Using the PPH [Patent Prosecution Highway] Agreement” (TW-SUPA). The purpose of the program is to accelerate the completion of first patent examination reports in Taiwan within six months and to encourage patent applicants to use the result to apply for a PPH examination with foreign patent offices that have a PPH agreement with Taiwan. (TW-SUPA Trial Program Scheduled to Be Launched Soon, Tai E International Patent & Law Office (Feb. 22, 2012) [The article also outlines the application requirements for the TW-SUPA program].)

By 2016, according to the Director-General of the Taiwan Intellectual Property Office (TIPO), Wang Mei-hua, there will be a shorter patent application review process of 24 months, in contrast to the current average handling time of 45 months. (Meg Chang, Taiwan Program Fast-Tracks Patent Applications, TAIWAN TODAY (Mar. 28, 2012).) The TIPO will assign 170 examiners to handle the expected increase in caseload and to establish a new patent and scientific literature research center, reportedly to be operational by early April, which may not only help halve the patent review time but also reduce the TIPO's 160,000-case backlog. (Id.)

The TIPO and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) finalized a PPH pilot program in August 2011, with the trial period to run from September 1, 2011 to August 31, 2012. Under the program, which will be subject to “staggered reviews with staffing and processing adjustments made accordingly,” corresponding applications in Taiwan and the U.S. may receive expedited treatment. (Id.) The trial period is extendable by up to one additional year; it could also be subject to early termination, should the volume of activity or other factors warrant it. (Patent Prosecution Highway Between USPO and TIPO (Pilot) (last modified Feb. 3, 2012), USPTO website.) The TIPO is one among 20 intellectual property offices worldwide with which the USPTO holds PPH agreements. (Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) – Fast Track Examination of Applications (last modified Dec. 1, 2011), USPTO website.)

Taiwan's legislature also recently adopted extensive amendments to the Patent Act. The rewritten law was promulgated on December 21, 2011. Among its 159 articles, 108 are amended articles of the original law, 36 are new articles, and 15 of the original articles were deleted. The Executive Yuan (Cabinet) will determine the date on which the Act will enter into effect. (Patent Law, 7008 THE GAZETTE OF THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT 2-49 (Dec. 21, 2011), Global Legal Information Network, ID No. 254885; Taiwan Legislative Yuan Passes the Patent Act Amendment, Tai E International Patent & Law Office (Dec. 2, 2011).)