Taiwan will modify its legal system in July by adding a special appellate court dedicated exclusively to intellectual property matters.

The court's judges will be well-versed in IPR issues and assisted by patent specialists, says Margaret Chen, deputy director-general of the Taiwanese government's Intellectual Property Office.

The move is praised by the American Institute in Taiwan, the de facto American embassy, as a milestone for IPR protections in Taiwan.

Under pressure from the U.S., Taiwan has been cracking down on illegal music sales and piracy. In a landmark 2003 case, the government shut down Kuro, a P2P file-sharing site that charged member fees. EzPeer, another P2P, soon followed.

Stiffer legislation has since been introduced in the Taiwanese legislature allowing copyright holders to pursue criminal charges against P2Ps without presenting an offending end-user.

Chen says copyright owners are now taking excessive legal action in the knowledge they are likely to win.

"Why try to pursue licensing fees when you can sue later and get much more money?" she says. "It worries me."

Chen adds that more emphasis needs to be placed on developing flexible and affordable licensing schemes, insisting that will make music companies show self-restraint and encourage legal music purchases. In the short term, she admits, the court will not help in that regard.

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