Part I. Infringement Assessment Report As Legal
¡@¡@¡@¡@Article 131 (2) of ROC Patent Law stipulates that ¡§a patentee initiating a complaint according to Articles 123 through 126 shall accompany therewith infringement assessment report and written notice having been served by the patentee with the infringer requested the preclusion of infringement.¡¨ It is very interesting to analyze and scrutinize this article at least from the following aspects:
1) It is to be noticed that a patent law offense is criminally punishable in this country. Articles 123 to 126 relate to violations of manufacture of an infringing product or use of a patented method claim. Articles 127 to 129 relate to offenses of sale, display for sale, or importation of an infringing article. Accordingly, we have:
2) The complaint initiated by the patentee must be accompanied by an infringement assessment report. According to Article 131(4) of ROC Patent Law, ¡§the Judicial Yuan and the Executive Yuan shall coordinate to designate special organizations for infringement assessment.¡¨ At present, said two Yuans have appointed 68 organizations in totality therefor, among which most of them are universities, quasi-governmental agencies, non-profit organizations and R & D institutes. We solemnly analyze how this practice comes out and whether it has its propriety as follows:
3) The complaint must also be accompanied by a copy of a written notice which has been served by the patentee with the infringer who is requested thereby to preclude infringement. According to Article 131(3) of ROC Patent Law, ¡§without submission of documents in the preceding paragraph, the complaint shall be illegal.¡¨ It is believed that such provision is applaudable in that:
4) Nevertheless, the merits of or the advantages brought forth by Article 131(3) of ROC Patent Law have been undermined by Article 131(2) of the same law by a clause of which it is unnecessary for a patentee desiring an initiation of a complaint against a possible infringer in respect of actions involving in Articles 127 to 129 to comply with requirements set forth therein in that:
5) The story does not come to an end in the very last paragraph. If we have agreed that rights of a light wrongdoer should be constitutionally protected, can we immovably or carelessly stand before the assumption that rights of a relatively heavier patent-related wrongdoer can be optionally interfered? We will analyze this issue as follows:
A. It surely is legal that for a heavier crime, rights of the potential criminal can be interfered before the court decision in order to curb any further possible damage resulting from the crime and/or to preserve the committing proof. The problem, however, resides in not only whether crimes in Articles 123 to 126 relate to heavier ones, but also in whether it is legally proper to allow the patentee to so invade rights of the potential criminal for crimes stipulated in Articles 123 to 126. In this respect,
B. Accordingly, in practice, even if the proposed amended Article 131(2) does not require the submission of an infringement assessment report for crimes stipulated in Articles 123 to 126, it will be impossible for the patentee to petition a search warrant and/or to obtain a favorable decision therefor if the judge or the prosecutor follow the current practice of not judging by themselves the issue whether there is a patent infringement. As a result, this will apparently have the same effect as if Article 131(2) stipulates that ¡¥a patentee initiating a complaint according to Articles 123 through 129 shall accompany therewith infringement assessment report and written notice having been served by the patentee with the infringer requested the preclusion of infringement.¡¦ This is because even if a complaint without an infringement assessment report will not be regarded as illegal, the complainant will either be required later to supplement therefor or not obtain any a favorable decision thereby until its submission so that the legal consequence is the same both for whether the infringement assessment report is statutory or not.
C. There still is a remaining question that although the legal consequence might be the same, is there any difference between that we stipulate it to be illegal without the statutory report in a first instance and that we provide the statutory report to be a prerequisite for a search warrant or a desired favorable decision in a second instance? In this regard,
a)In the first case, the complaint shall be immediately dismissed if unaccompanied by the statutory report. In the second instance, the complaint without the report still is legal but hardly possible to obtain a desired favorable court decision before the submission of the report. It would appear suggestible to adopt the second alternative in that on the one hand, it is more human or economic to allow the complainant to rectify its informalities upon complaining at a later stage. On the other hand, it is controversial whether it is constitutional to require the submission of the infringement assessment report upon complaining;
b) It is the duty or obligation of the court to determine whether there is a crime by finding the real fact and applying the proper law. It thus appears to be inappropriate to require the complainant to submit any kind of report for the purpose of assisting the court to render its decision. This is a big problem, which will be detailed hereinafter.
Part II. Legal Status of Infringement Assessment Report
¡@¡@¡@¡@As hereinbefore described, Articles 131 (2) and (3) of ROC Patent Law respectively stipulate that ¡§a patentee initiating a complaint according to Articles 123 through 126 shall accompany therewith infringement assessment report and written notice having been served by the patentee with the infringer requested the preclusion of infringement¡¨ and that ¡§without submission of documents in the preceding paragraph, the complaint shall be illegal.¡¨ Accordingly, the infringement assessment report is the legal prerequisite of a complaint. In practice, such infringement assessment report plays everything in a patent litigation in this country. Specifically, if a party has at hand a favorable such report rendered by an organization designated by the Judicial Yuan and the Executive Yuan as stipulated in Article 131(4) of ROC Patent Law, the party will win the case regardless of whatsoever or how the real situation might or would be, since the court will decide the case totally according to the conclusion of the infringement assessment report. Such practice raises the following issues which will be discussed hereinafter:
1) Is it appropriate for the court to do so?
¡@¡@¡@¡@As mentioned in Part 1, the one who renders the court-relying report in the image-outstanding organization is an outside examiner who normally has an excellent technical background but has relatively limited patent knowledge, a person who has been a patent engineer in and later left from a local patent office to join in subsequently that organization, or a member who was a technician in that organization and later requested thereby or actively requesting to play the role for preparing the report. It appears to be soundly reasonable for us to conclude that under a normal condition, a regular patent practitioner, i.e. a patent agent or attorney is much more patent-experienced than the report-rendering one of any origin. It thus is unacceptable for general concerns of average wisdom to bear the fact that the witness of a regular patent practitioner is less valued than that of a report-rendering person of less expertise. It is true that the patent practitioner acting on behalf of a specific party usually represents interests of the specific party. This factor shall in no way explain that the opinions of interests-representing patent practitioner are more valueless than that shown on the report issued from an image-outstanding organization. This is because opposite parties are equal to be represented by patent practitioners acting on behalf of their specific interests. Through acute and unsympathetic disputes therebetween, the judicial agency is able to discern right from wrong. We thus know it is beyond appropriate for the court to take the report from the image-outstanding organization as the sole standard for making its decision.
2) Is it legal for the court to do so?
¡@¡@¡@¡@The court is assumed to play the role of uttering in the human society what is right and/or wrong and executing what it believes to be justified, by which the social order is preferably maintained. The court is assumed to solve any dispute possibly occurred in the human society. The judge, after properly trained in the university and scrutinized by the qualification examination, should have the ability of so doing. A bright brain with a clear logical reasoning is fine for resolving any tough or tangled problem under the premise that the court is free to invoke any possible assistance originated outside thereof. It is true that it is somewhat difficult for the judge only academically disciplined in respect of laws without scientific subjects to decide on a patent-related dispute. Nevertheless, it is well believed that a bright brain with a clear logical reasoning ability is wonderful for melting any troubled problem.
¡@¡@¡@¡@Under the current practice, the court will decide a case according to the infringement assessment report. This does not differ from that the court entrusts the image-outstanding organization to decide the case therefor. This shall be infeasible not only because the report-rendering person is not suitably trained in respect of laws or the patent law but also because this will seriously injure the intended purpose and the sacrosanctity of the judicial system. Accordingly, all courts themselves violate the patent law since they do not find facts and apply appropriate articles of the patent law by themselves, and additionally violate the constitution since they do not decide the case presented before them by themselves. Currently, what the court finds is to find whether there is an infringement assessment report, and what the court applies is to apply one or more of articles of the patent law if the report concludes there is an infringement. This simple work needs not be done by a court judge and can be perfectly performed by the first grade student in the elementary school. It is therefore believed that:
A. What the court should find is to find by itself with a well-trained clear logical reasoning ability whether there exists the fact that there is an infringement in substance. To this end, it is necessary for the court to understand how the claim in a patent is drafted and how the allegedly infringing product or process is similar to the claim;
B. What the court should apply is to suitably apply proper articles from the patent law to subtly differentiated facts and then to finally choose the appropriate article of the patent law to decide the case;
C. It absolutely is the obligation and/or duty of the court rather than of any other organization to find facts and apply the law in the above-mentioned manner. The image-outstanding organization can at the utmost serve as a respectful medium for technical consultation for the case for the court and can never have the capability to play a role to prepare a report with which the decision of the court fully complies.
3) How such practice will influence the operation of the patent system here?
Under such system, the one who really decides a patent infringement case is the report-rendering person rather than the judge. This is logically ludicrous in that:
A. The report-rendering person normally has a technical background and has no intimate legally logical reasoning disposition by which a judge is assumed to have the capability to temporarily play the role of God to bring forth justice to the world. Although the technical opinions expressed by ones in the image-outstanding organization could be referred to in most cases, the image-outstanding technical individual can by no means assume the work of deciding a case for the competent judge;
B. The judge always having a bright brain with a clear logical reasoning ability can normally properly decide a case even he does not have a technological background. This is because through a precise legal analysis, it is possible for us to tabulate what kinds of technical problems and legal problems must be answered before we can justly decide a case. It is natural for the judge to answer the legal problems. For answering the technical problems, it is free for the judge to ask the help of any a competent image-outstanding organization. What and how the image-outstanding organization has answered the technical problems are reference data only for the court to decide the case. Such procedures are normal and standard for general court practice. We cannot see any reason why a patent dispute should not so follow.
¡@¡@¡@¡@Accordingly, under the present practice, the patent system does not run in the correct direction and the national research and development activities will be distorted in some way. This is because:
A. Although the infringement assessment report conclude without exception with a proviso that such report and its formal conclusion are merely for the purpose of reference for the court and there might exist further controversial issues to be clarified, the court normally disregards that proviso and directly takes the normal conclusion of the report for making its decision. The fact that whether there is an infringement is to be decided in essentiality by an image-outstanding organization normally of relatively limited patent knowledge is hurting to the justice and social order;
B. By allowing the court to decide a case entirely in accordance with the contents of the infringement assessment report, we have agreed the court to frontally attack the law. Under such practice, the court needs not exist for patent dispute. All patent disputes can be decided by the image-outstanding organization;
C. Such practice nearly ruins the dignity of the regular patent practitioner. Since the witness or what the patent practitioner says hardly plays an important role, a patent agent or attorney possibly having ample patent knowledge or experience is confined to provide services in drafting the specification. Furthermore, regardless of how great or bad the specification is drafted, the unchangeable destination is that the specification is to be interpreted by a ¡§patent layman¡¨ in an image-outstanding organization. How poor or what a pity for the patent practitioner to be born in this country;
D. The recent research and development in the industry is to integrate or unify academy, government and industry together to edge into the production field. Under such environment, there always is a close relationship between the industry and the academy or government. The later occupies a large portion of the 68 image-outstanding organizations. Such close relationship sometimes opens an opportunity for a party to influence the conclusion of the report or to obtain a favorable report. The justice in the human society or the truth in the world is thus damaged.
4) Shall such practice be abolished?
¡@¡@¡@¡@The patent system is taken to be sick in the past. With such statutory report existent for one day, the patent system in this country will get recovered in no way for an even longer period of time. It is true that the infringement assessment has solved for the court some headache problems in deciding a patent dispute. Nevertheless, it is based upon an improper basis, which should be ruined.
¡@¡@¡@¡@With a bright brain having a clear legal logical reasoning, it is beyond question for the judge to find his ways to accurately decide a case. For a judge, the real reason might be that he or she is too busy to study the case in detail, rather than that it is too difficult for him or her to understand or decide a patent-related case.
¡@¡@¡@¡@We definitely assert that such practice of submitting an infringement assessment report be abolished as soon as possible in order that:
Part III. Collateral Discussion on Warning Letter
¡@¡@¡@¡@As hereinbefore described, according to Articles 131 (2) and (3) of ROC Patent Law, for some patent crimes, a warning letter requesting the infringer to preclude the infringement is a prerequisite for a legal complaint. This also is a questionable legislation practice in that whether there is a patent crime is determined by whether the infringer has a malice for that crime but not depends on whether the infringer dares to continue to commit the crime after receiving a warning letter from the patentee. In this regard, the following questions might deserve discussed:
1) Is it proper to premise a legal complaint by a warning letter?
¡@¡@¡@¡@Legally theoretically, a crime is subjectively conditioned with a malice for a crime free from negligent punishment. As is known, for a relatively light crime, there normally is not a negligent penalty. This is the case for a patent crime. For a negligent infringer, a warning letter reminds it from staying away from the patent crime so that such practice is satisfactory in order to exclude the negligent infringer from inadvertently committing a patent crime.
¡@¡@¡@¡@For an infringer of a malice in fact, such practice apparently opens so large a legal leeway enabling the malicious infringer to leisurely escape from a legal sanction since it needs only stop its infringing acts after its receipt of the warning letter. Such legislation is inappropriate in that whenever a country desires to exercise her penal authority, there must be an act believed having on the social order a serious influence deserved penally sterilized. Once the crime is established, the penalty for the crime can be reprieved or commuted only after the criminal penalty is imposed upon the criminality. It is beyond the legislation theory or one¡¦s reasonable legal thought that a law criminates a criminality on the one hand but frees the criminality from being criminated when the criminal does not receive a warning letter in advance on the other hand. On the contrary, the law can provide an infringer continuing the infringement is criminally punishable after it has received a warning letter. In the latter circumstance, once the criminality is established, the crime is definite. Through such provision, the criminal sense of a patent law violator is much alleviated. This might be a way toward which we should devote ourselves to revise the law.
¡@¡@¡@¡@For an infringer of a malice in law, the current practice also negatively allows it to be reminded that it might involve in a patent infringement because it is permitted by the present law to carefreely infringe until it is formally served with the warning letter. In this regard,
2) Is it necessary to require a warning letter for a legal complaint?
¡@¡@¡@¡@There already are voices advocating that to require the submission of the infringement assessment report as a condition of a legal complaint is violating the constitution since it unduly limits the national¡¦s litigation right conferred by the constitution. Through the above discussion, it would appear that requiring the submission of the warning letter as a condition of a legal complaint will have the same problem.
¡@¡@¡@¡@According to the criminal proceedings here, there are two alternatives to criminate a criminal, i.e. instituting a complaint through the public prosecutor and initiating a private prosecution by the infringed itself. Although the present provisions have made it clear that submissions of infringement assessment report and warning letter are requirements of a legal complaint through the public prosecutor, it is believed that this will be inapplicable in a private prosecution in that for the latter, the judge might be convinced by the private prosecutor without the above-referenced report and letter. If not, in order to convince the judge that there is a crime, the private prosecutor must present before the judge persuasive proofs, e.g. the above-mentioned infringement assessment report and the warning letter.
¡@¡@¡@¡@The fact that a lot of the image-outstanding organizations often reject to provide an infringement assessment report further contributes to constitute that premising a legal complaint by the submission of the report is unconstitutional. It is believed that to require a warning letter in advance for a legal complaint is also unconstitutional in that it unduly disregards or exempts the existence of a malice of the infringer which might be vividly established to substantiate a crime. (1999, 6, 12)