Thailand is a founding member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a community with 10 member states (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam), formed under the Bangkok Declaration of August 8 1967.

At the eighth ASEAN Summit in Cambodia on November 4 2002, ASEAN members agreed to establish the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) as a unified market with full-scale trade liberalisation. One important aspect of the highly competitive economic region objective of the AEC Blueprint is the protection of IP rights. Under the ASEAN IP Rights Action Plan 2004-2010 and the ASEAN IP Rights Strategic Plan 2011-2015, ASEAN members have been working hard to fulfil a number of goals to make ASEAN a competitive and innovative community with better IP protection.

The priority goals are:

  • the improvement of IP legislation, protection and enforcement;
  • accession to international IP treaties, including the Madrid Protocol (for trademarks); and
  • the simplification and harmonisation of IP registration and procedures.

Thailand has made several improvements to its IP legislation since enacting its first trademark law in 1931. In 1991 Thailand enacted the international standard Trademark Act BE 2534 to replace the Trademark Act BE 2474 (1931). The new Trademark Act adopted the World Intellectual Property Organisation trademark law model and the International Classification of Goods and Services. The Penal Code BE 2499 (1956) imposes criminal liabilities on trademark infringement under Sections 272 to 275.

The Thailand Patent Act BE 2522 (1979) was amended in 1992 and 1999. Thailand acceded to the Paris Convention on Protection of Industrial Property in 2008, and acceded to the Patent Cooperation Treaty in 2009. The Thailand Patent Office will start accepting national phase applications under the Patent Cooperation Treaty in June 2011.

Thailand became a member of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works in 1931 and a member of the World Trade Organisation recognising the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) in January 1995. The current Copyright Act BE 2537 (1994) gives protection to copyright works on their creation. It is currently being amended to expand the scope of protection to include landlord liability. The Trademark Act was amended in 2000 to broaden the scope of marks and non-registrable trademarks and to amend opposition and cancellation measures in compliance with TRIPs. It is being amended further to include landlord liability and non-traditional marks, and to prepare Thailand for accession to the Madrid Protocol in the near future.

The Central Intellectual Property and International Trade Court was established in 1996 and is active in enforcing IP rights. In 2010 alone the court accepted over 3,200 new criminal cases on trademarks and over 1,600 new criminal cases on copyright infringement. Customs effectively implements cross-border measures in conjunction with the police and the Department of Intellectual Property against IP infringement activities.

For further information on this topic please contact Kowit Somwaiya at LawPlus Ltd by telephone (+66 2 636 0662), fax (+ 66 2 636 0663) or email ([email protected]).