An intellectual property agreement signed in Chongqing last Tuesday will uphold priority rights on both sides of the Tawain Straits in claims for first application dates on patents, trademarks and plant species.
Chen Yunlin, president of the mainland's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits and his Taiwan counterpart Chiang Pin-kung, chairman of the Taiwan-based Straits Exchange Foundation, signed the accord as well as a trade pact.
Following the agreement. a means of sharing patent data and examination results across the Straits will also be developed. Details of the cooperation are now under discussion, according to the State Intellectual Property Office.
The agreement also highlights law enforcement coordination. Fighting piracy and counterfeiting, whether on the Internet or in the market, is listed as a top priority for collaboration.
The two sides also announced they will increase efforts to protect well-known trademarks, geological indications, famous origin names and prevent malicious trademark registration.
Rightful owners are now assured of cancellation rights on malicious registrations, according to the agreement.
"The signing of the deal will have a significant effect on institutionalizing cooperation and exchanging technologies between the two sides," Zhang Guanhua, deputy director of the Institute of Taiwan Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told China Daily.
Zhang said the service trade, high-tech and the creative media, which all have a wide range of intellectual property, will be the biggest beneficiaries.
Cross-Straits protection of intellectual property has long lacked legal cooperation, said Shan Yuli, a researcher of Fujian Academy of Social Sociences.
The agreement is expected to now bolster confidence, she added.
Taiwanese farmers have shown increasing interest in the mainland market after 15 kinds of fruits became free of tariffs in 2005.
Yet counterfeit Taiwan fruit in some mainland regions concern farmers on the island, said Shan, who has long been researching Taiwan's agriculture.
The agreement calls for enhanced protection for fruit and other agricultural products through increased investigation and punishment, Shan said.
Taiwan has an edge in agricultural technology but has limited space and higher costs for agricultural development, Zhang said, adding that expansion to the mainland provides an option for mass production at reduced costs.
The measure is also expected to protect the creative arts. Wang Xiujuan, a manager on the mainland for Liuligongfang Co, an art company based in Taiwan that began mainland sales in 1987, welcomed the agreement, saying it will help shield firms from infringement and provides encouragement to innovation.
Creative firms are generally small in scale. When encountering counterfeits, they tend to do nothing due to costs in collecting evidence and the previous lack of communication between authorities across the Straits, Wang said.
Cross-Straits cooperation can now enter a new stage, said Sheng Jiuyuan, executive director of Pudong Institute for the Taiwan Economy.
Through the accord, the two sides will shift their cooperation to "cross-Straits innovation" that integrates complementary resources instead of the previous "cross-Straits made" model focusing on export-oriented production, Sheng said.