The USTR keeps Thailand on the Watch list, yet appreciates Thailand’s progress
On April 26th, 2023, the Director General of Thailand’s Department of Intellectual Property (“DIP”) revealed that the United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) announced the annual status review of Intellectual Property (“IP”) protection of the United States trading partners or the Special 301 Report published under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. Thailand is still on the Watch List (“WL”) this year, along with 21 other nations.
USTR has recognized Thailand’s progress in IP protection and enforcement, particularly the amendment of the Copyright Act to include a notice and takedown procedure, allowing the copyright owner to inform the platform and have the counterfeit items removed. Thailand also updates the Technological Protection Measure (“TPM”) to extend the expiration date of photoprotection.
Furthermore, Thailand has entered into bilateral cooperation with the World Intellectual Property Organization Copyright Treaty (“WCT”) to preserve licenses in the digital era. USTR has also applauded Thai intra-agency efforts in IP protection and enforcement, such as the Thai Customs IPR Recordation System (“TCIRs”) and the signing of memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with e-commerce platforms to report online counterfeit goods.
Apart from DIP’s progressive operations such as Smart DIP, Fast Track System for Trademark Registration, and so on, DIP also contributes to ASEAN’s protection and enforcement against IP infringement by nominating themselves to be the president of the ASEAN Network of Intellectual Property Enforcement Experts (ANIEE). The objective of being president is to drive economic growth through IP by establishing appropriate standards between Thailand and trading partners and protecting Thai entrepreneurs’ IP, to make ASEAN aware of the importance of IP protection and enforcement so that Thai products can be properly and timely protected, to provide opportunities and trade fairness under modern technology, as well as to improve ASEAN’s general IP image and ensure that Thai products exported to ASEAN will be protected and capable of competing without facing IP infringement. Thailand has been promoting experiences, knowledge, and success paths to the ASEAN region such as by associating with the ASEAN e-Commerce platform and creating the Protection and Enforcement against IP Infringement handbook and increasing the operational capacity of law enforcement agencies.
However, the USTR remains concerned with unauthorized film recordings, online counterfeit and pirated goods, impersonation royalty collection rights, and delays of criminal and civil proceedings, causing Thai to stay on the WL. To solve these concerns, Thailand is in the process of developing an IP Work plan with the US to shift out of WL. Thailand has proposed the idea to the United States, and the current procedure is for the United States to examine it. DIP will work as promptly as possible to bring Thailand out of the WL of the USTR annual status review in the future.