Thailand remains on US piracy list

Thailand remains on the Priority Watch List (PWL) for intellectual-property violations for the eighth year running as the country still stands accused of turning a blind eye to widespread piracy of software, entertainment and branded goods.

Thailand will remain on the list of the world's worst intellectual property (IP) violators for another year, according to the annual Special 301 Report by the US Trade Representative (USTR) released on Wednesday. (Full text of Thailand commentary below)

India, Algeria, Argentina, Chile, China, Indonesia, Pakistan, Russia and Venezuela have also been placed on the list.

According to the USTR, these countries "present the most significant concerns regarding insufficient IPR protection or enforcement, or otherwise limited market access for persons relying on intellectual property protection".

These countries will be subject to particularly intense bilateral engagement during the coming year, it said.

In theory, a country's presence on the PWL can entail punitive trade measures including special duties and other sanctions, but in practice this has never happened to date.

"The United States remains encouraged by Thailand's stated commitment to improving IPR protection and enforcement," the report says. But Washington "hopes... and urges" the government to take strong action.

Kulanee Issadisai, deputy director-general of the Intellectual Property Department, said the US's decision to maintain Thailand on its PWL is not a surprise as a law governing intellectual property rights is what the US government wants.

The political upheaval has stalled deliberation of the law and that is why the US still keeps Thailand on the list, she said.

Even though there has been no progress in the law, the department has not been sitting idly, she said.

It has set up the National Intellectual Property Right Centre of Enforcement to cooperate with 25 state agencies relating to intellectual property rights to clamp down on piracy in red zones and notorious markets which have high infringements.

The USTR a couple of years ago added eight red zones to its list of areas under scrutiny in Thailand.

They included MBK Centre, Chatuchak market, Siam Square, Sukhumvit Road and Patpong night markets in Bangkok; Karon and Patong beaches in Phuket, IT City in Pattaya and Rong Klua market at the Aranyaprathet border crossing with Cambodia.

This is the report's section on Thailand, in full (with paragraphs added for clarity).

Thailand

Thailand remains on the Priority Watch List in 2014. The United States remains encouraged by Thailand's stated commitment to improving IPR protection and enforcement, and is hopeful that the National IPR Center of Enforcement, launched in March 2013, will help to improve coordination and allow for more effective enforcement actions among Thai enforcement agencies.

The United States urges Thailand to complete many of the legislative initiatives begun in past years, including: legislation to address landlord liability and unauthorized camcording of motion pictures in theaters; to provide Thai Customs with ex officio authority; to fully implement the provisions of the WIPO Internet Treaties; to restructure the Trade Secret Committee and modify penalty provisions under the Trade Secrets Act; to accelerate patent examination and registration procedures and address issues such as partial designs; and to establish improved legal mechanisms to address the rapidly growing problem of copyright piracy and trademark counterfeiting on the Internet.

The United States also urges Thailand to take enforcement action against widespread piracy and counterfeiting in the country; to impose deterrent-level sentences; and to address effectively its longstanding problem of piracy of cable and satellite signals.

The United States continues to encourage Thailand to provide an effective system for protecting against the unfair commercial use, as well as unauthorized disclosure, of test or other data generated to obtain marketing approval for pharmaceutical and agricultural chemical products. The United States urges Thailand to engage in a meaningful and transparent manner with all relevant stakeholders, including IPR owners, as it considers ways to address Thailand's public health challenges, while maintaining a patent system that promotes innovation.

The United States looks forward to continuing to work with Thailand to address these and other issues.

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