A pitfall that is difficult to avoid when determining whether a patent is non-obvious is hindsight bias when comparing a patent with prior art. This is why the Taiwan Patent Examination Guidelines have introduced secondary considerations to determine the non-obviousness of a patent, including 'unexpected results', 'long-felt but unsolved needs', 'overcoming technical prejudice' and 'commercial success'.
In a recent case, the IP Court adopted a negative stance on the issue of whether the appearance design of drugs may be regarded as trade dress of goods or services and thus be subject to Article 22(1)(1) of the Fair Trade Act. The drugs involved in this case were prescription drugs that can be obtained only with a physician's prescription. It remains to be seen whether there is any difference in legal application with respect to non-prescription drugs.
Since the inception of laid-open patent applications, the Taiwan Intellectual Property Office (TIPO) has allowed any party to provide relevant materials to support rejections of subject patent applications before the examination decision is rendered. Having sustained the foregoing provision for several years, TIPO recently amended the rule by deleting the original restriction that supporting materials may be submitted only after a patent application is laid open.
In 2012 Taiwan and Japan signed a patent prosecution highway (PPH) programme to better facilitate patent cooperation. In 2014 the programme (known as the 'PPH MOTTAINAI') was amended to relax a restriction which meant that only search and examination results of the office of first filing were permissible as a reference for the office of second filing. On 1 May 2020 the PPH MOTTAINAI became permanently effective.
According to Article 30-1(13) of the Trademark Act, trademarks containing another person's portrait or well-known name, stage name, pseudonym or alternative name should be refused registration unless said person consents to the application. However, the definition of 'stage names' in Article 30-1(13) remains unclear under current practice. The IP Court recently expressed its view on this issue in an administrative litigation regarding trademark opposition.