| BUSAN, South Korea--Firing an apparent warning shot towards China, the World Semiconductor Council (WSC) Thursday (May 13) address a number of public policy issues, including intellectual property (IP), environment, and trade. |
As part of the policy issues, the WSC created a new Intellectual Property Task Force. The group also adopted a policy paper that sets out an approach to provide IP protection for layout designs of integrated circuits, according to the WSC.
The WSC, which represents the European, Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese, and U.S. semiconductor industries, held its meeting in Busan. The WSC also reiterated its desire to have the Chinese industry as a WSC member, and agreed to take quick action when the Chinese industry applies to join. The WSC did not mention China by name, but it called on all governments and authorities to implement effective IP enforcement measures in their jurisdictions and to fund their patent offices to insure the timely and accurate issuance of patents.
"The new WSC policy on layout design IP, coupled with the WSC's call for enforcement actions that provide an effective deterrent against IP violations, can make a real dent in illegal copying of semiconductor designs," said George Scalise, president of the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), in a statement.
The WSC also addressed another sore spot. At last year's WSC meeting, WSC noted that China imposes a 17 percent value added tax (VAT) on semiconductors, but provides eligible domestic producers with a rebate to lower the effective tax rate to a level of 3 percent.
China's practice of providing rebates to domestic products while continuing to charge imports the full VAT became the subject of a WTO case in March, and the first WTO consultations were held in April (see March 18 story).
The WSC called upon the parties involved in the WTO consultations on the VAT to reach a prompt resolution that leads to a 3 percent VAT rate on all semiconductors regardless of origin.
The WSC also voiced support for other actions that would facilitate consumer access to the latest semiconductor technologies at the lowest costs. WSC recommendations included urging governments and authorities to: avoid mandatory technical standards, and to follow WSC-specified principles when standards are mandatory; prohibit the imposition of levies on digital equipment and blank digital recording media; and treat multi-chip integrated circuits the same as general integrated circuits in terms of customs classification codes, thereby allowing them to remain tariff-free.
The WSC is comprised of members of the boards of the European Semiconductor Industry Association (EECA-ESIA), the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association (JEITA), the Korea Semiconductor Industry Association (KSIA), the U.S. Semiconductor Industry Association, and the Taiwan Semiconductor Industry Association (TSIA).