Taiwan’s positive patent examination pilot program for startup companies begins tomorrow

04 January 2021

Taiwan’s positive patent examination pilot program for startup companies begins tomorrow

To support the growth of startups, the government has been actively providing subsidies to nascent businesses. Newly founded companies in possession of patents have a greater chance of obtaining these state-sponsored contributions. An additional benefit of owning a patent is that it can be used as collateral for a loan and allows for diversified financing.

In order to expedite the patent acquisition process for startups, the Taiwan Intellectual Property Office will begin implementing the “Positive Patent Examination Pilot Program for Startup Companies” on January 5, 2021. This will give priority to invention patent applications filed by newly established companies. Where there are grounds for rejecting an invention patent application, TIPO will subsequently inform the filing applicant of those grounds and provide advice on application amendments via so-called “positive interviews.”

Where the program is applied to a startup company’s patent application that has undergone examination, TIPO will, within one month of receiving the application for positive patent examination, supply interview materials relating to the search report on novelty and inventive step requirements as well as materials relating to other reasons for patent rejection. TIPO will also arrange a time for the interview, which should generally take place within one month of the applicant receiving the aforementioned materials. After conclusion of the interview, the applicant shall submit a response or amendments within a month. Should an applicant fail to do so, review of the application shall revert to the regular examination procedure. The applicant may choose to withdraw the patent application so as to protect their invention as a trade secret. These changes make it possible for startups to obtain patents within four months of application for the positive patent examination, which in turn allows them to benefit from increased entrepreneurial resources while also accelerating the consolidation of their patent portfolio.  

Startups eligible for this program are those that, under Taiwan’s Company Act or its foreign counterparts, have been established for fewer than five years. Applications must be made electronically, and there are no charges for either the application itself or the positive interview. The pilot program’s trial period will run from January 5 until June 30, 2021, and is limited to a total of 30 test applications. Once the trial period has expired or the maximum number of test applications has been reached, TIPO will temporarily stop accepting applications and begin its evaluation of the program’s success, assessing both its continued viability and the need for possible changes.

“The biggest benefit of this program is to reduce the waiting period for the first office action from an average of 12-18 months to only one month,” says Ruey-Sen Tsai, a partner at Lee and Li in Taipei. “A petition form for the program may be submitted online with TIPO after the startup receives official notice that TIPO is about to conduct substantive examination of the invention patent, and prior to receipt of the first office action. For those complying with the mentioned requirements, TIPO will apply the program to its examination, taking the specific steps: (1) TIPO will hold an interview based on its authority; (2) the applicant shall submit a response or amendments in due time and; (3) a notice of the examination result will be issued within one month after receipt of the response or amendments.”

“However, the program has a trial period of merely half a year, and is limited to 30 cases. TIPO will evaluate whether to continue or amend the program based on the results,” Tsai says. “Startups can take the above information into consideration to formulate their plans of patent portfolio which are the most beneficial to development of their enterprises.”


Johnny Chan

Law firms

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