Thailand is undergoing an evolution of its intellectual property (IP) legal framework with efforts being made to tackle infringements within the country. There are however still significant obstacles but there are some actions that your business can take to improve your chances of preventing infringement and enforcing your rights when needed.
- Register early. Thailand uses a ‘first-to-file’ system which means that the first person to register an IP right (trade mark, patent etc.), rather than use it, owns it. If, for example, you don’t register your trade mark, someone else might and then you may well have to pay through the nose to get it back.
- Use the national patent filing system (for the moment at least). Thailand is a member of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) and as such, it is possible to apply internationally for a patent grant using a PCT application. The snag however, is that a sharp increase in PCT applications in recent years has led to a substantial backlog which has considerably slowed the granting process. If your priority is speed, a direct national filing application is a better bet for the time being.
- Make sure your documents are well translated. All documents need to be submitted in Thai or accompanied by a Thai translation and it is worth double checking that the translation you have is accurate. An inaccurately translated document (such as the patent specifications) could jeopardise your application or any enforcement efforts should the right be granted.
- Record your copyright. Though copyright protection is automatically conferred to the author, voluntarily registering your copyright is still highly recommended. It is a simple and inexpensive process and the resulting official protection can boost your enforcement chances if you need to combat infringement.
- Divulge a morsel of your trade secret. Thailand’s Department of Intellectual Property (DIP) allows for voluntary recordal of trade secrets. At first glance this is a little curious as the rationale behind protecting something as a trade secret is that you are confident no-one internally or externally is going to discover your secret formula or process and divulge or use it for their own purposes. BUT if your trade secret is leaked, how do get compensation? You must be able to prove that the secret in question a) was non-public information; b) confers a business advantage to you, and; c) was protected by measures that you specifically took to keep it confidential. Here, the DIP’s system can help as it enables you to record basic (not essential) information about the secret which can be used as evidence in case of legal disputes.
You can get more information on registering and protecting your IP rights in Thailand through the ASEAN IPR SME Helpdesk’s IP Country Factsheet. There is also an upcoming webinar on the subject which will offer strategic advice for European businesses to better manage their IP in the nation. Register for that by clicking here.
Do you have any tips on how to protect your intellectual property in Thailand?