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Editorial

Overview

As a leading producer of hi-tech components, Taiwan is an important jurisdiction in the global economy. Despite this, the country’s export-driven economy has slowed down over the last two years, as President Tsai Ing-Wen has sought to reduce the nation’s dependence on the neighbouring People’s Republic of China (PRC) – which maintains a sovereignty claim over the island – leading to a dramatic reduction in cross-Strait transactions and co-operation. Without significant inward investment from the PRC, Taiwanese companies are instead looking to consolidate their domestic operations through M&A and have been involved in considerable outbound investment activity across South-East Asia and the US.

Domestically, Tsai’s government has enacted a raft of legislation, including measures to improve corporate governance, tackle tax avoidance and strengthen intellectual property rights (particularly regarding trade secrets). In addition, the substantial 2016 amendments to the Labour Standards Act have introduced a multitude of complex requirements for employers in relation to overtime pay and weekend working.

On the whole, law firms have adjusted their offerings to better reflect the new market conditions and sweeping legislative changes have led to a healthy amount of new regulatory and compliance work for local medium-sized firms, such as Lin & Partners Attorneys-At-Law.

The largest local firms in terms of capacity, practice coverage and the ability to attract major clients remain Lee and Li, Attorneys-at-Law, Tsar & Tsai Law Firm, Formosa Transnational Attorneys at Law and Formosan Brothers Attorneys at Law.

International firms on the island have either adapted to or withdrawn from the market. While Baker McKenzie and Jones Day have used their cross-border capabilities to maintain their dominance in several areas, Winston & Strawn and Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP have wound down their Taiwan-based operations in the last year.

Intellectual property rights account for a large proportion of work in the jurisdiction, owing to its leading position as a producer of hi-tech products, notably of semiconductors. Much of this work relates to conventional trade mark and patent filings and prosecutions – but firms are increasingly called upon to represent local IP owners in trade secret prosecutions and enforcements that involve competitors in the PRC. Domestic boutique patent and trade mark firms have a significant presence, of note are Saint Island Group, Top Team International Patent & Trademark Office, Tai E International Patent & Law Office and TIPLO Attorneys-at-Law.

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