In the ever-changing fashion industry, every signature handbag design represents the designer's endeavour and the brand's goodwill. However, whether a handbag design is protected under the Copyright Act remains controversial. In recent civil decisions, the IP Court has demonstrated how the Taiwanese courts approach this issue.
As Chinese (Mandarin) is Taiwan's national language, many foreign companies use Chinese translations or transliterations of their foreign brands (trademarks) in order to expand into the Taiwanese market. However, as Chinese characters can have different pronunciations and meanings, there are often multiple ways of translating or transliterating foreign trademarks into Chinese. The Intellectual Property Court recently addressed this issue in an administrative case relating to a trademark opposition.
The Taipei District Court recently upheld the established case law on companies' use of competitors' trademarks in keyword advertising. In general, the courts deem the use of a trademark non-actionable if it does not appear in the actual ad (ie, someone using the search terms would not assume that the ad belongs to the trademark owner). However, even if a competitor's trademark is not used in a company's ad, its use in keyword advertising might be considered a violation of the Fair Trade Act.
In a recent administrative litigation case regarding a trademark opposition, the Supreme Administrative Court expressed an important view on the adoption of the anti-squatting clause. Compared with previous decisions, the court took a stricter approach to the interpretation of earlier trademark use. Claimants asserting unregistered rights under this clause must demonstrate that the unregistered earlier mark was used in the ordinary course of trade and in accordance with common transaction practices.
Under Article 97 of the Trademark Act, maliciously selling and importing counterfeits is subject to criminal liability. However, defendants are liable only if they act with malicious intent to sell and import counterfeits – where no malicious intent is proved or where it is shown that the defendant simply acted recklessly, they will not be held liable. A recent IP Court decision has clarified the evidentiary requirements for determining criminal liability where the counterfeiting involves non-traditional trademarks.