Property Rights Protection
for copyrights, patents and trademarks in Thailand has been improving
recently, but intellectual property protection remains a key bilateral
issue for its trading partners. Thailand's government created a
new copyright law in 1994 that focused on computer software, increasing
the fines and penalties against infringers. Other significant steps
include the creation of an Intellectual Property Department within
the Ministry of Commerce, increased legal expertise in intellectual
property matters within the Police and the Justice Ministry and
the operation of an Intellectual Property and International Trade
Court, which began operating in September 1997.
Thailand's legislative efforts for property rights are approaching
world-class standards, enforcement continues to be the main problem.
Although new legislation gives police the authority to conduct raids,
other Thai laws require the aggrieved party take an active role
in protecting its copyrights, patents and trademarks. This law makes
a "blanket" raid impossible as police can only respond to a specific
complaint. Once the complaint is made, the complainant needs to
take an active role in the raid and prosecutions, helping the police
identify pirated or counterfeit goods and supporting them throughout
the prosecution. Increased fines and penalties, from 100,000 baht
to 800,000 baht ($4,000 to $32,000) have been made possible under
the new copyright law along with product confiscation and jail time.
However, to date Thai judges have seldom imposed stiff fines on
offenders, and no one has ever served time in jail upon conviction
under an intellectual property law.
of 1998, Thailand remains on USTR's watch due to concerns over the
piracy levels of videos and software. The U.S. government has also
been monitoring decisions of the new intellectual property court
and has expressed dissatisfaction with Thailand's efforts.