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US expected keep Thailand on Priority Watch List for another year

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  • US expected keep Thailand on Priority Watch List for another year

    BANGKOK, April 24 –The head of Thailand’s Department of Intellectual Property said the United States is likely to announce by the end of this month that Thailand, among other countries, will remain on its Priority Watch List (PWL) for another year.

    Director-General Patchima Thanasanti said although Thailand has continously campaigned and acted against the infringement of intellectual property, the United States views that the problem has not declined for the past five years and that Thailand has no serious law to protect intellectual property.

    Her department is trying to legalise the copyrights and trademarks law as soon as possible, while the government is trying to push such law into enforcement.

    Ms Patchima said the law on intellectual property should be enforced by 2014, particularly violations of software and movie piracy. Once the law is put in place, the United States might delist Thailand from PWL to the less-stringent Watch List (WL) category instead.

    Meanwhile, the agency head said Deputy Commerce Minister Poom Sarapol had assigned her department to revise measures and take serious action against department stores allowing retailers to sell pirated items on their premises.

    The Intellectual Property Department is organising an 'IP Fair 2012' May 4-6 at Bangkok's Queen Sirikit National Convention Center to intensify the fight against the intellectual piracy issue, and to encourage and provide opportunities to inventors and intellectual property rights owners to meet and negotiate business with industrial entrepreneurs for further commercial gain from their goods and ideas. (MCOT online new

  • #2
    US keeps Thailand on intellectual rights watch list

    WASHINGTON - Thailand is on the US list of world's worst offenders of intellectual property (IP) laws for the ninth consecutive year.

    The United States Trade Representative early Friday issued its annual Special 301 Report on all its trading partners, and again found Thailand wanting in almost all areas of IP protection.

    Thailand was placed on the "priority watch list" of the report after it issued legal compulsory licences for three medicines made and sold at huge profit by US pharmaceutical companies. It has remained on that list ever since.

    The name of the report refers to Section 301 of the US Trade Act of 1974. It provides for sanctions against the worst offenders - such as Thailand - but in practice there never has been punishment for alleged offenders beyond name-and-shame.

    The latest US report also kept China and India on its Priority Watch List of trading partners that fail to protect intellectual property rights (IPR), hurting the economy.

    In all, the Commerce Department's US Trade Representative listed 13 trading partners on its "dirty dozen" Priority Watch List. As usual, they are listed only in alphabetical order: Algeria, Argentina, Chile, China, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Kuwait, Pakistan, Russia, Thailand, Ukraine and Venezuela.

    The full report can be viewed or downloaded from the US Trade Representative's website.

    "Thailand’s failure to address concerns identified by the United States, other foreign governments, and stakeholders has resulted in missed opportunities to address IPR challenges in recent amendments to Thailand’s copyright law," the report alleged.

    "Thailand remains on the Priority Watch List in 2015. The United States notes Thailand's stated desire to improve IPR protection and enforcement. At the same time, IPR enforcement does not seem to be a top priority for Thai law enforcement..."

    The report was largely a rehash of well-known issues of US concern including whole buildings featuring pirated music, movies and software, use of pirated software by government offices and "unfair" development of pharmaceuticals.

    Since its 2006 reaction to the compulsory licensing of medicine, the US has never accused Thailand of breaking laws or treaties, but insists on the "unfair" label.

    The 72-page section of the 301 report contained about one page on Thailand. No specific examples of piracy were given, although other reports such as the "notorious markets" paper issued in March have made specific allegations.

    Ecuador made the Priority Watch List because of its repeal last year of its criminal IPR provisions. "The current lack of criminal procedures and penalties invites transnational organized crime groups that engage in copyright piracy and trademark counterfeiting to view Ecuador as a safe haven," the USTR report said.

    Ukraine's government had not resolved problems identified two years ago by the US that include widespread use of illegal software by Ukrainian government agencies and the failure to adopt effective means to combat online copyright infringement, it said.

    While welcoming promising efforts by the Ukrainian authorities, the USTR said it was looking forward to seeing "tangible and lasting improvement, both in legislative reform and in practice."

    Kuwait was moved to the Priority Watch List in November after failing "to introduce legislation resulting in a copyright law consistent with international standards, and resume effective enforcement against copyright and trademark infringement."

    The other countries on the Priority Watch List were Argentina, Algeria, Chile, Indonesia, Pakistan, Russia, Thailand and Venezuela.

    China, the second-largest US trading partner, remained on the list despite certain improvements, including an intellectual property law reform effort, the report said.

    There were new and longstanding concerns about IPR protection and enforcement. The report highlighted new measures such as conditioning market access on the use of Chinese-indigenous IPR and the conduct of research and development in China.

    "A wide range of US stakeholders in China continues to report serious obstacles to effective protection of IPR in all forms, including patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, and protection of pharmaceutical test data," it said.

    "Given the size of China's consumer marketplace and its global importance as a producer of a broad range of products, China's protection and enforcement of IPR continues to be a focus of US trade policy."

    India also remained on the list but the Obama adminstration was upbeat about future improvements under the government of business-friendly Narendra Modi, who took office last May, following last year's out-of-cycle (OCR) review to encourage progress on IPR issues.

    The USTR has "the full expectation that the new channels for engagement created in the past year will bring about substantive and measurable improvements in India's IPR regime for the benefit of a broad range of innovative and creative industries."

    It said it would not announce another OCR for India "at this time" but would monitor progress over the coming months.

    The USTR had 24 countries on its less-serious Watch List for underlying IPR problems that included North America Free Trade Agreement partners Canada, the largest US trading partner, and Mexico, the number three.

    The Special 301 Report, based on public testimony in a review of 72 trading partners, covers a broad range of issues, from online piracy and counterfeiting to theft of trade secrets and legal barriers.

    "Tens of millions of Americans owe their jobs to intellectual property-intensive industries. Strong and balanced protection and enforcement of intellectual property are critical for promoting exports of US innovative and creative goods and services, and sustaining those jobs here at home," said US Trade Representative Michael Froman.

    Froman said in a statement that the report served as an "important tool" in the government's effort to "ensure that Americans can bring their inventions and creations to people all over the world without their work being infringed or misappropriated."

    The 2015 report also underscored some success stories. Italy, for example, had implemented new regulations in 2014 to combat online copyright piracy.

    The Philippines, which came off the Watch List last year, had undertaken enforcement reforms that included increased seizures of pirated and counterfeit goods.


    • #3
      The big issue: 301 hypocrites

      Thailand got on the United States list of the "dirty dozen" worst pirates in the explored galaxy for the ninth consecutive year. By doing that, it stayed off the list of worst hypocrites.

      The US Trade Representative released the annual Special 301 Report it shamelessly claims to assemble after careful consideration of evidence and field reports that all go into a professional, high-standard, 69-page snapshot of the state of intellectual property protection. It is somewhat chaotic, with individual country write-ups arranged by continent.

      "Special 301" is bureaucratese. It refers to the US Trade Act of 1974, which, in the 301st section (it's a thick law) ordered the government to report every year how the world is doing on catching up to US civilisation on the matters of copyright, trademark and patent law.

      There was a time the 301 report was somewhat objective and a useful guide to judging the evolution of intellectual property protection. Thailand in the 1980s and 1990s was predictably in the second tier, never dropping to the rank of worst-of-the-worst. In those innocent days, US governments assembled methodologically dependable reports from embassies around the world, and fairly compared piracy centres with upgraded IP laws.

      At some point, control of the reports slipped from those striving for accuracy. At an undefinable point after the turn of the century, political operatives got the reins. Influential figures intervened. The annual report went from written by experts to dictated by special interests.

      Thailand is an example of one country's treatment under Section 301. It could equally be Egypt or Venezuela, Iran or Canada — yes Canada, that hotbed of piracy by US standards — Singapore or the Philippines. The once-useful Section 301 Report now is generally mocked. This column cannot find a single useful book or paper in the past decade that cites the Special 301 Report to make a point about digital piracy, trademarked knock-offs or counterfeit pharmaceuticals.

      In 2007, the Thai (military) government legally and publicly declared pharmaceutical emergencies and applied a well-known mechanism called compulsory licensing. Repeat, this is not just allowed but specifically detailed in World Trade Organisation (WHO) regulations and practices. Big Pharma (translation: US pharmaceutical firms) hate compulsory licensing and here's why.

      Thailand wanted patients with heart disease and a common form of HIV to have access to medicine. The pills were available but had to be taken daily, and cost tens of thousands of baht per month. By invoking compulsory licensing, the government Pharmaceutical Organisation could make generic drugs and sell them cheaply. Reminder: This is legal by all international laws and treaties. Big Pharma went nuts.

      This occurred as the Special 301 Report was in transition from credible to risible. In April, 2008, Thailand was demoted to the Dirty Dozen list for the first time. It has stayed there ever since.

      The Special 301 Report never mentions which country supports the greatest number of counterfeit drug users, who supplies the overwhelming majority of quality movies to internet pirate sites. The home of the biggest communities of internet spammers is redacted from the report.

      Unlike, say, the more respected Trafficking in Persons and terrorism lists, the US does not judge itself or look in the cross-border mirror of piracy.

      It is an ugly hypocrisy of 21st century diplomacy that the US has never confessed it demoted Thailand on the orders of its pharmaceutical companies. Ask them. They'll tell you it's all about the pirated disks and illegal Mickey Mouse T-shirts and that Indian-made Viagra in the tourist kiosks. Of course it is.

      The truth is that in March, the USTR glad-handed the pharmacy makers while they read a four-page statement into the record summarising the perfidious, stubborn, blind, weak, discriminatory, compulsory licensing of Thai authorities nine years ago and concluding the industry "recommends that Thailand be included on the 2016 Priority Watch List", the polite term for the Dirty Dozen.

      Then the Motion Picture Association of America: "Legislation enacted in Thailand in 2014 is considered inadequate." Plus all that cam-cording that is going on.

      The International Intellectual Property Alliance: "[T]he nature and scope of piracy in Thailand has not improved and may have even worsened..."

      The USTR itself, in its report last week: Notorious markets exist in Bangkok, offering counterfeit and pirated goods and services, and a relative lack of enforcement.

      All of the above, of course, is factual, even true.

      It is not, however, how Thailand made it onto the Dirty Dozen list, and why it has remained there for nine consecutive reports. It may have been three lousy medicine brands, but the men and women with the power to set US trade agendas and write treaties like the Trans-Pacific Partnership are not the forgetting or the forgiving kind.


      • #4
        US upgrades Thailand for improved IP protection
        16 Dec 2017

        An excavator crushes 300 tonnes of pirated electrical goods, luxury products and other items worth 141 million baht at an event staged in March at an army base in Bangkok.
        (File photo by Tawatchai Kemgumnerd)

        WASHINGTON: The United States has removed Thailand from its Priority Watch List of intellectual property (IP) violators in recognition of the country's efforts to improve IP protection and enforcement.

        After 10 years in the company of countries deemed to have the world's worst IP protection, the country has been upgraded to the Watch List.

        US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer made the announcement on Friday following a so-called Special 301 review. It refers to Section 301 of the US Trade Act, under which countries that fail to combat IP violations cound face trade sanctions.

        "A key objective of the Trump Administration's trade policy is ensuring that US owners of intellectual property (IP) have a full and fair opportunity to use and profit from their IP around the globe," Mr Lighthizer said a statement released by the office of the USTR.

        "The key to promoting innovation is protecting intellectual property. We welcome the corrective actions that Thailand has taken and look forward to continuing to work with Thailand to resolve our remaining IP concerns."

        Successive Thai governments have expressed a determination to improve anti-piracy enforcement and other measures in order to avoid the risk of US sanctions. Their focus has been mainly on piracy of movies, music and software. Staged photo opportunities at which fake goods are destroyed are routine but mostly meaningless.

        While counterfeiting remains a problem and a major concern of the US entertainment, media and software industries, Thailand's stance on pharmaceuticals is the real thorn in Washington's side.

        Thailand is among a number of countries that have angered the US pharmaceutical industry, which holds huge sway over American lawmakers, by using compulsory licensing to make essential drugs cheaper.

        Mr Lighthizer said the US government had been "closely engaging" with Thailand on improving IP protection and enforcement as part of the bilateral US-Thailand Trade and Investment Framework Agreement.

        "This engagement has yielded results on resolving US IP concerns across a range of issues, including on enforcement, patents and pharmaceuticals, trademarks and copyright," he said.

        He noted that the country had established an inter-agency National Committee on Intellectual Property Policy and a subcommittee on enforcement against IP infringement, led by the prime minister and a deputy prime minister, respectively.

        "This strong level of interest from the highest levels of the government led to improved coordination among government entities, as well as enhanced and sustained enforcement efforts to combat counterfeit and pirated goods throughout the country," he said.

        Thailand, he added, had also been taking steps to address backlogs in patent and trademark applications, including significantly increasing the number of examiners and streamlining regulations.

        As well, the country has joined the Madrid Protocol, making it easier for US companies to apply for trademarks, and taken steps to address concerns regarding online piracy affecting the US content industry.

        The report also noted "a commitment from Thailand to improve transparency related to pharmaceutical issues", such as taking stakeholder input into account as it considers amendments to the Drug Act.