Reinvigorated intellectual property enforcement efforts by Thai authorities in 2012, in the aftermath of the flood crisis last year, have already reaped great success and led to the possible disbandment of a major forgery ring on the eastern seaboard.
In 2011, there was a slowdown in total raid actions undertaken and the quantity of fake goods seized in Thailand, with a reduction from about 6,000 cases resulting in the seizure of 4.6 million products in 2010, to about 5,900 cases and 2.65 million seized goods in 2011. This reduction can be attributed to the flood crisis that stalled anticounterfeiting activities for much of the last quarter, and the fact that counterfeiters are moving from the streets to cyberspace to peddle their illegal goods.
However, the Department of Intellectual Property (DIP), the police, the Customs authorities, and the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) have launched a concerted effort to clamp down on the problem, and their efforts have been rewarded by some major busts in the first quarter of 2012.
The DIP initiated a campaign called “Stop Piracy, Buy Original Now” at Pantip Plaza, Mah Boon Krong (MBK), and Rong Klue market located on the Thai-Cambodian border, followed by a policy to prevent the sale of counterfeit products on the internet, which enjoyed some success.
Buoyed by this success, the DSI has continued to step up its aggressive action, and five major raid actions were launched by the DSI’s Eastern Bureau, which is responsible for enforcement action against infringing activities in Thailand’s eastern provinces.
Working with Tilleke & Gibbins and one of our key clients, DSI officers at the Eastern Bureau conducted raids on five shops located in the Pattaya City Walk Complex, South Pattaya, on February 29, 2012.
One of the targets, a respectable-looking art gallery showroom, was in fact used as a hideout to allow the counterfeiters to trade their infringing goods undetected. An innocuous painting that was affixed to a wall cleverly concealed a door, which led to other rooms where the infringing goods were hidden away.
It was discovered that the seized counterfeited goods, which were ordered from China and Cambodia, had a total value of THB 15 million. Many of the goods seized in this case included renowned mainstream brands such as Gucci, Prada, and Celine.
Following the raid actions, these cases are now being investigated by the DSI, in a bid to ascertain whether any connection exists between the owners of these stores and a larger network of IP infringers.