IP protection key to Thailand 4.0 as USTR launches review

Thailand’s stepped up actions to protect intellectual property (IP) have prompted the United States Trade Representative to launch an out-of-cycle review of the Kingdom’s record on IP as the head of Thailand’s Intellectual Property Department said protecting IP is a key element of Thailand 4.0, the national strategy on advanced development.


“The Trump Administration has been closely engaging with Thailand on improving IP protection and enforcement,” the office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) said in a recent press release. The statement preceded Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s meeting with President Donald J. Trump at the White House last week.

“In recent months, Thailand has taken steps to improve enforcement against pirated and counterfeit goods, including enhanced coordination among enforcement agencies and a sustained focus on investigations and raids,” the USTR said.

USTR Robert Lighthizer announced the review after a meeting in Washington D.C. with Thai Minister of Commerce Apiradi Tantraporn during which they discussed a range of matters including how to increase bilateral trade and also reduce the U.S. trade deficit with Thailand.

Thailand has been on the USTR’s Priority Watch List since 2007 when the Thai government of that time chose to allow production of affordable generic versions of three life-saving pharmaceuticals. The move, which was permitted under World Trade Organization rules on compulsory licensing, was nonetheless controversial and sparked a backlash from pharmaceutical companies.

Thailand has not issued any compulsory licenses since then, and the USTR noted that Thailand has made progress in other areas.

Aside from more vigorous enforcement, the USTR said that in August, Thailand made it easier for U.S. companies to file for trademark protection by acceding to the Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks, managed by the World Intellectual Property Organization.

Thosapone Dansuputra, director-general of the Department of Intellectual Property at Thailand’s Ministry of Commerce said protecting intellectual property was essential under Thailand 4.0, the national strategy to foster innovation, creativity, research and development, and advanced technologies.

Only if innovators are sure that what they create will be protected will they share knowledge, collaborate with others and choose Thailand as the location for their research and development.

“We are a key mechanism in protecting new technology and innovation vital to economic development, and we do this by motivating new developments,” Thosapone said.