By PETCHANET PRATRUANGKRAI
THE INTELLECTUAL Property Department has warned businesses to register their patents, trademarks or copyrights before trading in markets, both local and international, as some Thai products have already been registered abroad and sold without the consent
“The department found more cases of Thai intellectual-property rights [IPR] being breached in some countries, mainly in China, because Thais are less concerned about IPR,” said Nuntawan Sakuntanaga, director-general of the department.
Among the Thai companies whose trademarks have been registered overseas are Malee, Tipco, Tao Kae Noi, Lobo, Red Bull, Mama and Paitai Norasingh, which make fruit juice, energy beverages, peanuts, snacks, chilli paste, sauce and instant noodles.
Those Thai products have been copied by local agents and traders who benefited from loopholes that allowed them to register the products trademark overseas before the real owners. Thai companies need to take IPR more seriously amid global trade liberalisation, she said.
More Thai logos, trademarks and product designs have been pirated. If local firms do not protect their IPR, they could lose opportunities to sell their own products and penetrate other markets.
Even products sold in the domestic market have been copied and sold overseas. If companies want to expand to other countries, they may be unable to do so because foreign players or pirates may have already registered their knockoffs.
The department is dealing with some cases where products are owned by Thais, but they cannot be sold abroad as they have not been registered. To avoid the problem, the department urges businesses or innovators to register their rights with the department.
By mid-2016, to help IPR owners, Thailand will join the Madrid Protocol, an international treaty for trademark registration. This initiative will allow Thai enterprises to also apply to register their trademarks in many countries that have also signed the treaty.
Membership will reduce the cost of registering individual trademarks, shorten the time taken to register a trademark and provide protection via the protocol network of 97 member countries.
The treaty permits the filing of a single application for a trademark covering more than one country. The process identifies the trademark application to be considered in a large number of countries within a specified period.
An applicant need not travel and follow the domestic laws in each country, which can be complicated, redundant and costly.