Thailand has been relegated to a fifth year in a row on the United States' Priority Watch List for insufficient enforcement and protection of intellectual-property rights.
"It is not beyond our expectation, as the country has not yet passed laws to punish violators stringently. The US has mostly wanted Thailand to enforce laws," Kulanee Issadisai, deputy director-general of the Intellectual Property Department, said yesterday.
"Although the country remains on the PWL, we will continue to protect IPR and pass laws this year."
The United States Trade Representative (USTR) singled out the absence of laws governing the use of camcorders in cinemas and a high rate of piracy and counterfeiting on digital media and the Internet.
Thailand will now find it difficult to gain tax privileges under the United States’ Generalised System of Preferences. However, the Thai government has vowed to continue the process of improving protection of IPR under its creative-economy programme, Kulanee said.
Thailand will continue to launch many attempts to improve protection of IPR this year such as passing a copyright act, making landlords liable for offences, tackling partial designs and designating unauthorised camcording a criminal offence. The government will also increase protection against cyber or Internet violations.
The department will write to the USTR to underscore its many projects to promote IPR in the following years.
The USTR said its annual Special 301 report on the adequacy and effectiveness of IPR among US trading partners was aimed at fighting copyright theft in overseas markets. It claims the report is critical to the livelihoods of 18 million Americans who work in IP-intensive industries.
Trading partners on the PWL present the most significant concerns regarding insufficient IPR protection or enforcement, or otherwise limited market access for persons relying on IP protection.
Ten countries – China, Russia, Algeria, Argentina, Chile, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Thailand and Venezuela – are on the Priority Watch List.
The upper class or Watch List category had 27 countries, fewer than 30 countries last year.
Three countries – Israel, Italy and the Philippines – were upgraded from the Watch List as a reward for making aggressive attempts to suppress IPR violations.
The US said it believed that the Thai government would exert strenuous efforts to eliminate violations and that many actions were noticed in the past year, but some better protection and actual laws to protect violators and punish them were still needed.
Washington said it was ready to tighten cooperation to stop IP theft, which it claims threatens IP-related jobs in the US and other countries.
It claims the report is a springboard for ambitious and collaborative partnerships in the coming year to strengthen protection for the innovation and creativity that drive jobs and exports for the US and trading partners around the world.