Thailand’s Commercial Minister commands agencies to strengthen IP protection
15 June 2021
Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit has ordered the Department of Intellectual Property to work closely with government and private agencies to suppress IP violations and upgrade existing laws as the government aims to remove Thailand from the United States Trade Representative’s Watch List as soon as possible.
According to Laksanawisit, the department has been instructed to work with US-related agencies to build an IP Work Plan to remove Thailand from the Watch List and all US lists in the future as well as pursue talks with its US counterparts under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (Tifa) to tackle IP issues.
“The Plan is not made known to the public. My guess is that the Minister mentioned the Plan as part of the Thailand’s 20-year IP Roadmap, which covers six major areas including the IP creation and protection. It has been reported in the period of 12 months from April 2020 to March 2021, that DIP worked actively on a large number of projects and activities in collaboration with governmental agencies of foreign countries, international, regional and local IP organizations and associations, and other IP stakeholders, for protection and enforcement of IP,” says Kowit Somwaiya, managing partner at LawPlus in Bangkok. “For example, the draft amendment to the Patent Act is being prepared to increase the efficiency of the patent and design registration processes, the Copyright Act amendment for Thailand’s accession to the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) is now being reviewed by a reviewing committee of the House of Representatives. The draft of the new trademark examination guidelines is being finalized after it was published for public consultations in March 2021.”
On April 30, the USTR announced in its annual Special 301 Report that it would keep Thailand on its trade Watch List.
The US government admires the Thai government’s and Commerce Ministry’s progress in preventing infringement, development of IP protection, and crackdowns on violations in both the offline and online markets.
The report said Thailand continues to make progress and is addressing concerns raised as part of the bilateral US-Thailand Tifa.
Thailand has seized pirated goods and increased efforts to combat the sale of counterfeit goods online as well as publishing enforcement statistics online.
Thailand has also increased efforts against online piracy, particularly through enhanced intra-agency coordination though concerns remain, said the report.
The report found that pirated goods are still readily available, both in physical markets and online. Therefore, the US has urged Thailand to continue improving enforcement measures.
The US has urged Thailand to ensure that amendments to its Copyright Act address concerns expressed by the US and foreign governments and stakeholders, including overly broad technological protection measure exceptions, procedural obstacles to enforcement against unauthorized camcording, and unauthorized collective management organizations.
“The amendments to the Copyright Act are being carried out in two phases. The first phase is for Thailand’s accession to the WCT. The draft amendment is with the House of Representatives and is expected to be enacted as a law in 2022. The second phase is for Thailand’s accession to the WIPO Performance and Phonograms Treaty now being drafted by DIP to be ready for public comments around the end of 2021 or early 2022,” Somwaiya says. “The two amendments are expected to address the concerns of all stakeholders, such as the concerns about the offline and online pirated goods, the border enforcement issues, and the conducts of collective management organizations.”