IPD vows to drive out pirated goods

The Intellectual Property Department is supervising raids on Maboonkrong shopping centre and Pantip Plaza, along with four other alleged centres of pirated goods. (Bangkok Post file photos)

Pirated goods will be wiped out from six locations in the country in the next month, Intellectual Property Department (IPD) director-general Thosapone Dansuputra has vowed.

The targeted locations are Maboonkrong (MBK) shopping centre, Pantip Plaza, Klong Thom, Ban Mor and Chatuchak weekend market. Outside Bangkok, crackdowns have been launched at the Rong Klua market in Sa Kaeo on the border with Cambodia.

Massive raids were conducted earlier this month in response to an order issued by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who chaired the International Economic Policy Committee which decided to step up efforts to tackle counterfeit products in the country.

The raids appear directly linked to the upcoming official visit to Washington by Gen Prayut. No specific date has yet been announced except that it will be "during July".

Washington was appealing to the military regime in the waning days of the Barack Obama administration to clean up piracy markets. The US Trade Representative (USTR) specifically named MBK and Rong Klua as the biggest markets for pirated goods in and outside Bangkok respectively.

Spokesman confirmed Sunday the decision to raid was reached after a video conference between the IPD and the USTR on a bill banning the registration of foreign-made drugs late last month.

During the conference, the US also asked the government to roll out more substantive measures to suppress producers and sellers of pirated goods.

According to the DIP chief, no pirated goods have been found at Pantip Plaza, Klong Thom or Ban Mor during inspections over the past two weeks.

As for the remaining three, only a few fake goods have been spotted as most vendors comply with the law and sell local products or products bearing no label instead.

Sales of counterfeit products at the Rong Klua market have been curbed following the crackdowns, which forced the closures of many shops selling fake brand-name bags and shoes.

Mr Thosapone said both lenient and harsh measures were used in the suppression, ranging from publicising the crackdowns and penalties against copyright violators, to instructing vendors on intellectual property infringement.

Other measures also included warnings and revocation of lease contracts.

He said the suppression has been conducted by a joint force of authorities from the DIP, the Internal Security Operations Command, the Royal Thai Army, the Royal Thai Police, the Department of Special Investigation and the State Railway of Thailand, which owns plots of land in Chatuchak market.

Authorities asked for co-operation from land owners and proprietors of shopping malls to help with the crackdown while a war room was also set up to monitor the violation of intellectual property, he added.

According to the USTR's Special 301 report released in April, Thailand remains on the US Priority Watch List (PWL) for an 11th straight year. Washington says the country is not doing enough to protect intellectual property rights.

The annual report on [ITALS]Notorious Markets[UNITALS] (PDF document) issued last December by the USTR named MBK Mall as the most troublesome market where pirated goods are available.

But it noted that intellectual rights holders "face a difficult environment in Thailand due to the large number of markets offering counterfeit and pirated goods and services, and a relative lack of enforcement".

The report singled out MBK, describing it as, " where infringing offerings range from counterfeit headphones and Bluetooth speakers to apparel and footwear to pirated DVDs".

The only other "notorious market" named was Rong Klua, which the report called "the largest wholesale and retail market for counterfeit goods in Thailand".

The report, issued a month before Donald Trump became US president, "requests that Thai authorities conduct sustained, coordinated enforcement actions".

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