10 J. World Intell. Prop. 1 (2007)

handle is hein.journals/jwip10 and id is 1 raw text is: 


The Journal of World Intellectual Property (2007) Vol. 10, no. 1, pp. 1-21


Patent Protection for Chinese Herbal
Medicine Product Invention in Taiwan

Jerry I.-H. Hsiao
Queen Mary Intellectual Property Research Institute, University of London



Taiwan has aimed to develop a local Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) industry targeting the
global market. The main patent issues concern whether the inventions constitute patentable
subject matter, and their patentability. Currently, it is difficult for CHM inventions to comply
with patent standards developed in conjunction with the Western pharmaceutical industry.
Despite its increasing prominence, thus far, Taiwan is the only country in the world to
address specifically the characteristics of herbal medicines. Based on examining currently
available literature and conducting interviews with patent examiners and CHM professors in
Taiwan, this article compares CHM with Western and indigenous medicines. This article
assesses the inefficiencies of the current patent law and explains the necessity for the new
examination guideline. It is concluded that this new examination guideline will meet the needs
of the CHM  industry.
Keywords Chinese herbal medicine; patent law; patent examination guideline; Taiwan


As a subset of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the practice of Chinese herbal
medicine (CHM)   has long flourished in East Asian countries like China, Korea,
Japan2 and Taiwan  before the advent of Western pharmaceuticals in the nineteenth
century. Today, the practice of Western medicine has shifted from curative medicine
to preventive medicine due  to the rise of the aging population, especially in the
developed world. Currently, over 130 countries in the world are using CHM; more
than  120 countries have CHM research   institutes studying the composition and
effects of natural remedies (Chen). The popularity of CHM   is due to the rise of
many  non-fatal chronic diseases among  the elderly. It is vital to provide suitable
drugs for the elderly, who require three to four times more medication than  the
younger  generation. CHM   appeals to the older people because TCM  is renowned
for maintaining the overall balance of the human body  and increasing its natural
defense against diseases.
    Nowadays,  CHM has gained   much  popularity in the West. A study carried out
from 1990 to 1997 in the United States suggests a substantial increase in the number
of people  seeking alternative medicine and  the total amount  of out-of-pocket
expenditure for alternative medicines is comparable  to the  total US physician
services in 1997 (Eisenberg et al., 1998). Today, 21.5% of the population uses CHM
and  the usage is likely to rise, as Taiwan is rapidly transcending into an aging
society.3 In order to combat aging, the Taiwanese people have spent a considerable
amount  of money  in purchasing health food products/dietary supplements-NT $20
billion in 1998 alone. According to a survey conducted by the Taiwan  Economic


 2007 The Author. Journal Compilation  2007 Blackwell Publishing Ltd


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