By The Nation
Director-general Nantawan Sakuntanak said the IP Department was preparing a plan that will cover four areas – encourage more Thais to create intellectual properties, protection of IP rights, tackling violations and creating awareness about the need to respect such rights.
The plan, which should be completed soon, will include short-, medium- and long-term strategies. They will be submitted to Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn and will then be proposed to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.
Under the short-term strategy, the department aims to focus its eradication efforts on the “red zones” nationwide where counterfeit merchandise is sold. There are currently 29 such locations, including MBK, Pantip, Patpong, Silom Road, Sukhumvit Road and Klong Thom in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, and a marketplace on the Thai-Cambodian border.
The department hopes to halve the number of red zones by next year and wipe them out totally by 2021. However, it is necessary to receive full cooperation from other state agencies. It is also necessary to eliminate the production sources of such illegal merchandise and major distributors, Nantawan said.
IP violations in the red zones have already declined sharply. The Pantip Plaza building management has refused to renew the leases of vendors who have violated IP rights, with only 10 or so vendors still selling fake computer software there.
Meanwhile, the sale of fake mobile phones and accessories at MBK has also declined. The IP Department will meet with about 100 vendors at MBK on March 19 to establish understanding on the need to refrain from selling illegal fake merchandise, Nantawan said.
In addition, authorities have stepped up eradication efforts, especially on the Thai-Cambodian border. Talad Roang Guer is a major delivery point for fake merchandise that is then distributed to other provinces, Bangkok included.
Last year, the Customs Department seized Bt2.2 million worth of fake merchandise, while the Department of Special Investigation confiscated more than 800,000 fake eyeglasses.
The National Anti-Corruption Commission also seized assets of traders engaging in the sale or distribution of counterfeit merchandise.
The IP Department will raise awareness among Thais of the need to respect IP rights by not buying and/or using fake products. Thailand’s reputation and image overseas will be enhanced when the red zones have been greatly reduced, or fully eliminated, the department believes. It would also mean more foreign investment, it hopes.