Patents as property in Taiwanese jurisprudence: rebuilding a property model for patents
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The reconciliation of patents within the Taiwanese Law of Things has received negligible attention from legal scholars. The primary reason for this is the hesitation, by courts and scholars alike, to construct a new property paradigm, referring instead to treat patents under the existing rules on physical things. This dominating stance has had an impact on the manner in which Taiwanese courts adjudicate on the nature of patents, and dealings therewith. The aim of the thesis is to show that this stance is theoretically illogical. The underlying issue is the different classification of patents within the civil and common law systems. The study employs a historical and comparative law methodology in order to inform an intra-law solution to the problem of how to overcome the classification dilemma. It does this by critically analysing the evolution of patent categorisation as personal property in common law and, by employing this foundation, seeks to distinguish the substantial differences in the concept of property between the common and civil law traditions. In light of these differences, and to establish a consolidated way of reconciling patents into the current Taiwanese legal framework, the thesis further analyses the similarity of the property notion under English common law and Taiwanese customary law, both of which are shaped by exclusion rules. The hypothesis is that ownership of land within these two systems, in similar with that of patents, was not an absolute and outright ownership of land governed by inclusion rules, but was instead a freehold which granted intangible rights that could be divided by the duration of the holding. It is suggested that a theoretically more coherent property model can be achieved by adopting this approach, and analogising patents to the tenure systems that existed within both English common law and Taiwanese customary law. To this end, the thesis proposes to contextually rebuild the property model for patents within Taiwanese law by the insertion of five new reform clauses into the Patent Act and the Civil Code.
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