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Intellectual Property and Commercial Court


2011 Min Zhu Su Zi No. 35

Decision No. 2011 Min Zhu Su Zi No. 35
Date June 29, 2012
Decision Highlight

The so-called “merger doctrine of idea and expression” means that an idea and an expression are merged when the idea and the expression are mutually indistinguishable or inseparable, or when there is only one means or limited number of ways of expression for the idea and concept, and the Copyright Act will not protect such merger, or otherwise the idea will be monopolized if such idea-included merger is protected by the Copyright Act. In addition to the influence against the development of human culture or arts, such monopoly of idea will also invade the fundamental civil rights protected by the Constitution, including freedom of speech, lecture, production and publication. Therefore, when the merger doctrine of idea and expression is applied and satisfied, there will be no infringement of copyright even if the expressions between the productions are substantively similar. A portion of the “combinations of a character and a radical thereof” selected and displayed by the Plaintiff are also selected and displayed by the Defendant, therefore, both parties are largely overlapping upon the “combinations of a character and different radicals.” However, because each radical will result in the case of easily misjudged character and therefore makes itself so restrained in nature. In light of the purpose for both dictionaries or lexicons is to fulfill the needs of the primary and secondary school students upon selection of characters from easily misunderstood radicals or “combinations of a character and different radicals”, the compiling thereof must not be too deviated or too harsh to read upon, so the resulted ways of compiling are unavoidably very limited and share a number of expressions in common. As a result, the idea and expression merged together due to the limited means of expression. While considering that the Defendant’s dictionary has many contents, which are very significant parts of the production, being apparently different from that of the Plaintiff upon the character selection of “combinations of a character and different radicals”, it suffices to say that the Defendant’s objective expression in selecting “combinations of a character and different radicals” differs from that of the Plaintiff, and there is no substantive similarity being established. Accordingly, it is impossible to conclude that the data selection of the Defendant constitutes any reproduction or plagiarization of the Plaintiff’s dictionary.

Relevant statutes Article 88, Paragraph 1 of the Copyright Act
  • Release Date:2020-11-13
  • Update:2020-12-03