In January 2018, Thailand's efforts to strengthen its IP
system and enforcement processes for counterfeit and pirated
goods were recognised with the Office of the United States
Trade Representative (USTR) removing Thailand from its Priority
Watch List for intellectual property. Thailand had been on the
USTR Priority Watch List for more than a decade.
On the Priority Watch List
In April 2017, the USTR published the Special 301 Report on
Intellectual Property Rights. The report included Thailand on
its Priority Watch List, due to "widespread availability of
counterfeit and pirated goods" and "lack of effective and
deterrent enforcement measures." Further reasons cited for this
classification were backlogs in pending patent applications,
failure to include landlord liability provisions in the
Copyright Act B.E. 2558 (A.D. 2015), widespread use of
unlicensed software, lengthy civil IP enforcement proceedings,
low civil damages for infringements and extensive cable and
satellite signal theft.
While placing Thailand on the Priority Watch List, the USTR
noted Thailand's "strong political commitment" to IP
protection, especially in terms of the country's IP Roadmap,
announced on January 26 2017, which highlighted goals for
effective enforcement and timely prosecution of registrations.
In 2016, the Thai Department of Intellectual Property increased
the number of patent and trademark examiners, which has helped
expedite prosecution processes and clear large backlogs. By
April 2017, investigations and raids had also become more
frequent and effective. Between January and May 2017, 3,273 IP
infringement cases were prosecuted, with 1.69 million
infringing goods seized. Compared to the same period of 2016,
this represents a 4.58% increase in number of cases and 26.56%
reduction in number of goods seized.
The USTR continued to encourage Thailand to improve efforts
to investigate and pursue IP cases. This included issuing
deterrent sentences against infringers, addressing online
piracy more rigorously, clarifying notice and take down
procedures and establishing reliable measures to prevent and
counteract unfair commercial use and/or unauthorized disclosure
of scientific data to public agencies for the purpose of
obtaining marketing approval for pharmaceutical and
agricultural chemical products.
Removal from the Priority Watch List
Between April 2017 and January 2018, under the bilateral
US-Thailand Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, measures
were taken to further Thailand's efforts to strengthen its IP
system. The USTR considered these "corrective actions"
sufficient reason to move Thailand from the Watch List, as
announced in its January 2018 Out-of-Cycle Review (OCR)
In the review, it was noted that Thailand had proved its
commitment to IP by establishing the National Committee on IP
Policy (chaired by the Prime Minister) and a subcommittee on
enforcement against IP infringement. Concerns raised in the
April 2017 Report were also efficiently addressed, with
"enhanced and sustained enforcement efforts to combat
counterfeit and pirated goods throughout the country", patent
and trademark application backlogs constantly being reduced,
increased procedural efficiency, and the government's pledge to
"improve transparency related to pharmaceutical issues".
Thailand also adopted a novel approach to mitigate its
exclusion of landlord liability provisions in the new Copyright
Act by sending letters to property owners requesting that they
warn tenants to refrain from selling counterfeit and pirated
goods and monitor this.
In January 2018, the Digital Economy and Society Ministry
shut down 10 websites believed to be selling pirated goods.
Evidence is being collected to shut down another twenty, and
tax investigations are being employed as a tool against
individuals who have profited from the sale of pirated goods
through online social media platforms.
As Thai news coverage of raids and developments in national
and international IP law increases, it is expected that
awareness of, and respect for, IP rights will grow among the
general public, contributing to the sustainability of the
recent positive results.
Thailand's removal from the Priority Watch List is a major
achievement for the progress of IP in Thailand and both Thai
and international IP owners can now have greater confidence
that their IP will be respected and protected in Thailand.
Spruson & Ferguson
Nos. 496-502 Amarin Plaza BuildingUnit Nos. 1806-1807,
18th Floor, Ploenchit Road, Lumpini Sub-District, Pathumwan
District, Bangkok 10330 Thailand
Tel: +66 2 305 6893