Govt complains to US Embassy over Lady Gaga

Economy May 29, 2012 00:00

By Petchanet Pratruangkrai


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Although Lady Gaga's "Born This Way Ball" in Bangkok ended happily last Friday, the aftermath of her tweet about buying fake Rolex watches in Thailand has not ended, as the Commerce Ministry's Intellectual Property Department has officially expressed

Pajchima Tanasanti, director-general of the department, said the government was very disappointed with Lady Gaga’s tweet during her visit last week that she wanted to shop for a fake Rolex in Bangkok, considering it offensive, insulting and creating a bad image for the country.

"Lady Gaga is a famous singer and an idol for youth and is well known by the public. She is also an owner of copyright and many intellectual-property rights. She should take more responsibility before posting comments to the public," Pajchima said.

The singer made the comment to her 24 million Twitter followers, sparking an uproar last Thursday in Thailand. She posted that she wanted to shop for a fake Rolex in a "lady market" in Bangkok.

The department wrote to the US Embassy in Bangkok calling for her to show respect to the Kingdom. Thailand has demonstrated serious attempts to suppress IPR violations for a long time. Her post not only damaged the country’s image, but also those of Thai and foreign government agencies that have tried to cooperate in suppressing IP violations, the letter said.

Moreover, it said, Thailand has worked closely with the US Trade Representative and the International Intellectual Property Alliance to suppress counterfeiting of goods here for many years. The department was strongly concerned that the singer’s behaviour would encourage other tourists to seek and shop for fake products in the country.

Meanwhile, famous instant-coffee and seasoning sauces are being pirated and sold in flea markets.

Deputy Commerce Minister Poom Sarapol said police recently seized 150,000 packs of fake instant coffee using Nescafe’s Three in One logo. The producers said they had been making fake instant coffee for sale at the markets for nine months.

Poom said consumers could be made ill by fake foods and beverages. The department has also found some fake seasoning sauce, mainly soy sauce and fish sauce, being sold at flea markets.

It warned consumers to choose carefully where they make their purchases as many fake products could be on offer, endangering their health.

The department has called on the Royal Thai Police and the Food and Drug Administration to inspect flea markets nationwide. Traders found selling fake goods are subject to a Bt400,000 fine and/or four years in jail.

The department reported 67 cases in which 300,788 items of counterfeit goods were seized during the first five months of this year.