20 Jul IP Reform News
Recent Updates from the Department of Intellectual Property
The Legal Committee of the American Chamber of Commerce in Thailand hosted a lunch in June and had Khun Thosapone Dansuputra, Deputy Director General of the Department of Intellectual Property (DIP), as the special guest speaker. Ministry of Commerce and Department of Intellectual Property officials had recently returned from a trip to Washington D.C. where recent developments in Thailand’s intellectual property (IP) reform plans were discussed with the US government. Mr. Thosapone Dansuputra discussed Thailand’s IP reforms, recent developments in IP legislation, and action plans for IP in Thailand.
Khun Thosapone said that the DIP’s immediate plans are to concentrate on IP creation and commercialization. IP creation will include helping small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and startups create innovations through the use of the DIP’s IP database, patent mapping services, and patent search services. IP commercialization services will include providing support for IP rights holders to commercialize their IP, annual fairs and Geographical Indication (GI) markets, annual IP Champion events, establishment of Technology Licensing Offices, and the development of an IP Mart System. The DIP also plans to promote GI registration and establish national and international standards of GI goods and promote Thai GI relating to cultural tourism.
Also discussed were the problems that are affecting intellectual property protection in Thailand, most notably, backlogs with trademark and patent approvals. Currently, there are 38,481 pending patent applications and 39 patent examiners and 32,247 pending trademark applications and 20 trademark examiners. Due to the backlogs and not enough examiners, there are long delays in the application processes along with quality and consistency issues. To help resolve these issues, the DIP plans to increase the number of IP examiners by adding 88 new patent examiners and 20 new trademark examiners and further training for the existing and new examiners. The DIP also intends to improve its IP registration system and add an E-filing system and improve overall efficiency through work flow diagnosis.
Another topic was the changes in Thailand’s intellectual property laws. In 2015, the Copyright Act was amended and now covers the protection of Rights Management Information (RMI) and Technological Protection Measures (TPM). Additionally, intermediaries and internet service providers can be held responsible for copyright infringement on the internet and persons who illegally record movies in theaters can be fined and imprisoned. In 2016, Thailand plans to help ratify the Marrakesh Treaty which allows for copyright exceptions in national laws to allow print-disabled persons to get accessible format publications. Thailand’s Patent Act is currently in the amendment process. Under the new act, the patent registration process with be streamlined and Thailand will join the Hague Agreement which allows for the international registration of industrial designs through filing a single international application. Thailand’s new Trademark Act was promulgated in April 2016 and will become effective on July 28, 2016. The new Trademark Act allows for the protection of sound marks and streamlines the trademark registration process. Under the new Act, Thailand is now a member of the Madrid Protocol, a central registration system for the international registration of trademarks and service marks via a single application. However, the government is completing the implementing regulations, so registrations under the Madrid Protocol will not be available until the end of 2016.
Regarding the prevention and suppression of IP rights violations, Khun Thosapone reported that the government was establishing a sub-committee on IP rights enforcement and that the Royal Thai Police, the Customs Department, and the Department of Special Investigations conducted 7437 raids and seized 3,846,969 infringing products in 2015. He also said that there have already been two cases resulting in the seizure of an infringer’s assets in 2016. Assets worth THB3 million were seized in a copyright case and THB110 million in a trademark case. The government also plans to amend the Computer Crime Act to enable officers to deter online IP rights infringement.