Technology Law News in the Far East

This newsletter highlights current legal issues in connection with Asian technology law developments which affect technology businesses.

The parent company of NASDAQ and Japan’s Softbank recently announced a joint venture to create a NASDAQ Japan market which will mirror the U.S. NASDAQ.  With its focus on high-growth technology companies, the venture is expected to accelerate the growth of Japan's high-tech business.

Current Japanese IP Developments
Significant changes have been made to intellectual property laws in Japan due to legislative and judicial initiatives.  In 1998, patent legislation was passed to strengthen patent and design rights.  The Japan Diet has passed trademark laws amendments in May 1999 make Japan a member of the Madrid Protocol.  the Diet recently passed amended unfair competition laws to prohibit the sale, distribution, and importation of devices and computer programs which block encryption and methods of preventing unauthorized copying or use of software and digital information.

Japan's Fair Trade Commission has proposed guidelines for patent and know-how licensing agreements under Japan's anti-monopoly laws.  The Japanese Supreme Court made a patent infringement decision which will broaden the experimental use exception supporting generic drug manufacturers.  In addition, a Japanese subsidiary of an American pharmaceutical company received a substantial damage award from the Tokyo District Court for patent infringement.  The Court rendered a decision in an important trademark case which should broaden the protection of famous marks in Japan.

China - Intellectual Property Law Amendments
Chinese intellectual property (IP) laws have changed as a result of China’s entry to the World Trade Organization in 2001. Numerous IP laws were amended. China's laws and policies were standardized as a prerequisite of China’s policy of opening to world trade. China’s agencies have published their rules and regulations on the Internet in order to provide greater transparency in the functioning of these agencies relative to the new Chinese laws.

China's basic IP laws were amended in order to comply with trade–related intellectual property issues ("TRIPs"). Some of the goals of the new regulations were to eliminate subjectivity, improve efficiency and reduce bureaucracy.

Governmental Technology Programs
The Governments of Hong Kong and Singapore have taken actions to implement official use of online technologyon a broad basis. These Governmental technology programs provide new technological opportunities. Hong Kong has introduced a comprehensive intellectual property interactive e-filing program which allows registrants to access and modify online Government records. In Singapore, the government has adopted an electronic filing system in 2000 for court filings. Singapore law firms make court filing electronically using this internet based system.


These significant legislative, administrative and judicial changes in intellectual property laws in Asian countries increase the conformity of intellectual property laws to IP laws in western countries.  As the Asian courts overcome conservative traditions, there will be increased global consistency.  Businesses owning intellectual property rights in Asian countries should pay attention to the changes in Asia's IP laws and make certain that their rights are fully exploited and adequate protections are implemented.

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