Thailand Remains on U.S. Trade Representative’s Priority Watch List
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative’s Priority Watch List (PWL) identifies countries that are considered to provide unfair market access and inadequate protection regarding intellectual property rights.
Thailand has been on the PWL of IP violators for eight (8) consecutive years. This is due to persistent copyright infringement of entertainment products, software piracy, and the manufacture and distribution of fake designer goods.
In its Special 301 Report, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative listed a number of ‘Red Zones’ where counterfeit products are available in Thailand for consumers to purchase. Such locations include the well-known shopping centers of Chatuchak market, MBK and Siam Square, the nightlife areas of Silom and Sukhumvit, and the border crossing market at Aranyaprathet.
Thailand is urged in the report to step up its enforcement efforts and to consider handing down harsher sentences to violators as a deterrent.
Thailand’s government continues to work towards having Thailand removed from the PWL. Towards this end, it established the National Intellectual Property Center for Enforcement (NICE) in 2013, which operates under the direction of the Department of Intellectual Property (DIP) and has access to the facilities of the Ministry of Commerce. NICE aims to uphold and advance IP rights, and promote cooperation among governmental agencies for the purposes of tackling Thailand’s worst offenders.
Its place on the PWL has cost Thailand certain benefits, specifically, tax exemption as a business partner country of the United States. Significantly, it has also cost legitimate Thai business owners with protected IP property registered under their own names, various business and marketing opportunities.
Obtaining trademark protection in Thailand is straightforward. Copyright is automatically protected, while the registration process for patents takes approximately 3-4 years. Maintaining rights after your IP has been registered, however, is just as important.
Blumenthal Richter & Sumet has over 20 years’ experience handling Intellectual Property-related matters and are routinely called upon to advise on the enforceability of our clients intellectual property rights. The firm continues its efforts to assure that Thailand remains a safe choice for its clients’ investments.