Review of IPR Protection in Thailand Identifies Improvements in Various Areas
Following an out-of-cycle review of Thailand under the so-called Special 301 provisions concerning the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative announced Dec. 15 that it is moving that country from the Priority Watch List to the lower-tier Watch List. USTR indicates that close engagement with Thailand has helped resolve U.S. concerns in a range of areas, including enforcement, patents and pharmaceuticals, trademarks, and copyrights.
For example, Thailand has established an interagency National Committee on Intellectual Property Policy as well as a subcommittee on enforcement against intellectual property infringement, led by the prime minister and a deputy prime minister, respectively. According to USTR, this strong level of interest from the highest levels of the Thai government has led to improved coordination among government entities, as well as enhanced and sustained enforcement efforts to combat counterfeit and pirated goods throughout the country.
Additionally, Thailand has been taking steps to address backlogs for patent and trademark applications, including by significantly increasing the number of examiners and streamlining regulations. Thailand has also joined the Madrid Protocol, making it easier for U.S. companies to apply for trademarks, and has taken steps to address concerns regarding online piracy affecting the U.S. content industry. Other encouraging developments include a commitment to improve transparency related to pharmaceutical issues, such as taking stakeholder input into account as Thailand considers amendments to its Drug Act and providing interested stakeholders with regular consultation opportunities with the Thai Food and Drug Administration.