Thosapone Dansuputra, the newly-appointed director-general of the Department of Intellectual Property (DIP), has outlined the priorities for the year 2017 and given an introduction to some of the reforms to the Thai intellectual property environment which are going to be put forward in the coming months. In addition to the fight against IP counterfeiting and the commitment to have Thailand removed from the US’s Priority Watch List by the end of the year, focus will be put in reducing the red tape involved in the national patent system, as well as in fostering international cooperation and integration in the fields of patents and design rights.

Amendments to the Patents Act will be proposed, with the aim of reducing the length of the patent registration process to no longer than three years. Today the average time period between the filing of a patent and its registration is of five years. In addition, officials from the DIP are consulting with authorities of various countries to set up cooperation systems in order to avoid unnecessary duplication of workload. For example, an agreement has already been reached with Japan’s intellectual property office, and patents which have already passed the substantive examination in Japan will be exempted from it in Thailand. While arrangement may not apply to all patents (due to differences on authority and notions of patentability of subject matters, such as plant varieties), the hope is to put in place several similar agreements with authorities from other countries.

Furthermore, changes will be made to ensure that Thailand’s patent law fully complies with the Doha Declaration on TRIPS (the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) and public health, in particular in relation to the freedom it awards to nations regarding compulsory licensing. Namely, Article 31 of TRIPS states the conditions for the grant of a compulsory license: that each case must be analyzed individually, that prior negotiations regarding a voluntary license with the patent holder have been unsuccessful, and that the patent holder must receive adequate remuneration.

Mr. Thosapone also stated that the DIP will make all necessary efforts to have Thailand accede to The Hague Agreement, of which Cambodia is becoming the 66th member this coming February, which allows for international registration of design rights through single applications.

[Source: Bangkok Post]