Taiwan’s Council of Grand Justices issued Interpretation No 761 on February 9 2018, addressing the issue of whether or not judges and technical examiners at the Intellectual Property Court (hereinafter referred to as IP Court) are obliged to abide by Article 19.3 of the law on administrative litigation. According to this Article, after a judge has participated in hearing a civil action that is related to an administrative litigation action filed subsequently, they must abstain from taking up adjudication of the administrative litigation action.
Taiwan has a dual litigation system. Civil litigations are adjudicated by forums with civil jurisdiction while administrative litigation actions are heard by forums with jurisdiction over administrative litigation actions. To avoid the risk that a judge may prejudge an administrative litigation action after hearing a related civil litigation case, the Administrative Litigation Act mandates that a judge in charge of a civil action for patent infringement should take the initiative to abstain from ruling on a related administrative litigation action, for example, an action filed by the infringer against a decision rendered by the IP Office in favour of the patent owner.
The stringent doctrine of recusal was relaxed in tandem with the implementation of Article 34.2 of the Intellectual Property Case Adjudication Act. As expressly indicated in the legislative notes presented during the legislation process of the Adjudication Act, due to the sophisticated nature of intellectual property cases, whenever there are civil, criminal or administrative litigation cases relating to the same intellectual property right, all these cases can be referred to the same judge for adjudication in order to maintain consistency in judgment. By relaxing the doctrine of recusal, the Adjudication Act purports to maintain consistency in judgment and solve the dispute more efficiently in situations in which a patent owner files a civil action for patent infringement with the civil panel of the IP Court and the alleged infringer takes a counter-measure by filing an invalidation action with the IP Office which then proceeds to the stage of administrative litigation. The administrative panel of the IP Court has jurisdiction over this. It is also stipulated in the Adjudication Act that the doctrine of recusal applies not only to judges but also to technical examiners.
The Council of Grand Justices has respect for the legislative spirit of the Adjudication Act. Interpretation No 761 was released by the Council embracing the belief that some relaxation of the doctrine of recusal as stipulated in the Adjudication Act conforms to constitutional law.