Government designates 2013 “Year of IP Protection.”
Thailand is vowing to step up its war against intellectual property (IP) piracy, with the Yingluck Shinawatra administration designating 2013 the country’s “Year of IP Protection.” Similar to many developing countries, Thailand has faced difficult and sometimes complex challenges in protecting trademarks, copyrights and patents. But the government is determined to show greater resolve on this issue as it transitions the country towards an economy where creativity and knowledge are essential components and drivers of growth.
As part of the Year of IP Protection, the Thai Ministry of Commerce will work closely with the Royal Thai Police to suppress violations such as manufacturing, importing and trading of counterfeit goods, and the Education Ministry will increase awareness of IPR among Thai youth. While some trading partners, including the United States, have registered concerns over the level of piracy in Thailand, Thai innovators and businesses are also victims of IP theft and have been telling the authorities that they need to do more when it comes to enforcement.
To demonstrate a new level of commitment, beginning this holiday season the government has been sending teams to markets known as “hotspots” for pirated goods. Recently, an “out-of-cycle” report by the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) named 12 areas around the country that it called “red zones” because of the high volume of pirated goods sold and found there. Some are popular with tourists as well as Thais, while others are patronized chiefly by locals.
According to Deputy Commerce Minister Nattawut Saikua, the 12 areas have already been designated as targets for more frequent and thorough sweeps and inspections by law enforcement officials. He added that he expects parliament will pass a law this year banning patrons from bringing camcorders into movie theaters, with stiff penalties for violators.
Thai authorities do not deny they have to do better on enforcement, but not all pirated goods found in Thai markets were made in Thailand. A significant percentage were actually made in other countries in the region and smuggled across borders. Two of the 12 red zones named by the USTR are, in fact, border trading areas.
Thai film stars, television producers, musicians and inventors have all held demonstrations and participated in campaigns to educate the public about the damage caused by piracy to Thailand’s artists, economy and international image.