27 Sept 2017
Intellectual Property Protection in Thailand
Intellectual Property (IP) rights are territorial in nature and registrations in Hong Kong or another jurisdiction are not automatically enforceable in other jurisdictions. Hong Kong companies are advised to register their IP as soon as practical.
The Department of Intellectual Property (DIP) of Ministry of Commerce oversees the IP framework in Thailand. Key information on main IP rights (patents, trademarks and copyright) are provided in the table below. Thailand also has rules and regulations governing trade secrets, plant patents and layout-designs of integrated circuits, which can also be found on the DIP website. It is advisable to seek advice from the DIP and/or a Thai lawyer specialised in IP law, particularly as the application for IP rights must be completed in the Thai language.
Overview of IP Rights in Thailand
Patents and Designs
Scope and Duration
Patents are protected under the Patent Act B.E. 2522 (1979) and there are three types:
1. Invention patent – a new invention, an innovative step and applicable for industry – valid for 20 years from date of filing (not renewable).
2. Petty patent – similar to invention patent – valid for six years from the date of filing, and can be renewed twice for an extension period of two years.
3. Design patent – a new industrial or handicraft design – valid for 10 years from the date of filing (not renewable).
A comparison between the three types is available on DIP's website.
Registration and Fees
Applications should be submitted to DIP. Fees are required at time of registration and annually once the fifth year has been reached. The application process and schedule of fees are available on the DIP website for invention and petty patents and design patents.
Alternatively, as Thailand is a member of the following international conventions regulating patents: Paris Convention, Patent Cooperation Treaty, ASEAN Patent Examination Co-operation (ASPEC) and the Global Patent Prosecution Highway (GPPH), patent applications in multiple jurisdictions through these routes will save considerable time and resources.
Trademarks and Geographical Indication (GIs)
A trademark protects signs, symbols, logos, words or sounds, and it is defined to apply to service marks, certification marks and collective marks. A GI protects names or signs used on certain products which correspond to a specific location, where the quality or reputation of the goods is essentially attributable to its place of origin.
Registered trademarks or GIs are valid for 10 years and may be renewed every 10 years.
Registration and Fees
Thailand acceded to the Madrid Protocol in August 2017, which will take effect in the country from November 2017. Meanwhile, trademark applications can only be processed through Thailand’s IP office.
Copyright protects literary, musical and artistic works, films, sound recordings, broadcasts and derivative works. In Thailand, copyright protection is regulated by the Copyright Act.
Protection remains valid for 50 years after the death of a known author or after publication in the case of an unknown author.
Although there is no requirement for registration, a copyright owner is recommended to notify DIP of the copyright in a work. This acts as a prima facie evidence for proving copyrighted work. The process for registering copyright can be found on the DIP's website.
Enforcement of IP Rights
Under the IP regime of Thailand, enforcement of IP rights can be exercised, with the following options available to Hong Kong companies:
- Dispute settlement process managed by DIP.
- Criminal or civil prosecution through the Intellectual Property and International Trade Court. Such action can be initiated after a complaint with the relevant police force has been filed. Civil prosecution is usually more resource intensive and costly.
- Prevent the import or export of IP-infringing products. Further information can be found on the Thai Customs website.
- Regulatory Environment
- Establishing a Presence
- Intellectual Property Protection
- Staff Recruitment
- Tax Considerations
- Import/Export Procedures
- Further Information