Thailand to keep US trade list spot

Thailand to keep US trade list spot

IP protection efforts noticed with caveats

The United States Trade Representative (USTR) in its annual Special 301 Report is expected to keep Thailand on its Watch List (WL) thanks to improvements in intellectual property (IP) protections, said a source at the Commerce Ministry.

That report is scheduled to be released on Thursday. Thailand was lifted from the USTR's Priority Watch List (PWL) and placed on the WL in 2017 after it had been left on the PWL for 10 years, said the source.

The country has amended several laws concerning intellectual property protections to scale up prevention of intellectual property violations on the internet and allowing websites to be blocked that violate copyright of foreign films, songs and TV series, said the source.

More amendments were passed to improve the efficiency of tackling bootleg films, which allowed Thailand to join more international treaties on intellectual property protection, said the source.

Thailand has also formed a national committee on the prevention and suppression of intellectual property violations.

Those efforts have demonstrated the government regards intellectual property violations as an issue of national importance, the source added.

Altogether, the source said the intellectual property situation in Thailand has improved.

On March 30 when the USTR published its 2020 National Trade Estimate Report, it said that while Thailand has made progress on intellectual property protection and enforcement, including by improving coordination on enforcement efforts to combat counterfeit and pirated goods and by taking legislative and administrative steps to address backlogs for patent and trademark applications, other concerns remain.

The US expressed worries about the availability of counterfeit and pirated goods, both in physical markets and online, as highlighted by the continued inclusion of Patpong Market in Bangkok in the Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets.

Other concerns include the widespread use of unlicensed software in both the public and private sectors, extensive cable and satellite signal theft, "camcording" of movies, overly broad exceptions to laws that penalise the unauthorised circumvention of technological protection measures, and continuing lack of effective enforcement against online piracy and counterfeiting, said the report.

Thailand was urged to adopt a more effective system to fight intellectual property violations and improve trade fairness, said the source.

The International Intellectual Property Alliance had prepared a report and submitted it to the USTR along with a proposal to keep Thailand on the WL along with seven other nations.

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