You can register intellectual property (IP) rights in Thailand for trade marks, patents, designs, plant varieties and integrated circuit topographies. Thailand also adopts a voluntary records system under which copyright owners may record their copyright.
The Department of Intellectual Property (DIP) at the Ministry of Commerce is the government body responsible for administering Thailand's IP rights system.
Thailand is perceived by many to be a haven for counterfeiting and piracy. The Thai government has been reinforcing its legal framework with an aim to overcome existing challenges in enforcing IP rights. Accordingly, exporters to Thailand should seek advice in respect of any recent changes that may affect them.
Filing and renewal fees tend to be lower than the comparable Australian fees. However, businesses should factor translation fees into the total cost of filing applications. A local address for service is generally required for seeking IP registration in Thailand.
- Thailand adopts a first to file trade mark system. Therefore Thai trade mark applications should be filed as early as possible. Delay in applying for trade marks in Thailand increases the risk of the mark being hijacked by local entities. Some protection is available to well-known trade marks.
- A Thai trade mark registration is valid for 10 years and may be renewed for successive 10 year periods upon payment of fees.
- Any foreign words in a trade mark must be transliterated and translated into Thai in a trade mark application.
- Protection for non-traditional marks is limited in Thailand. Trade mark protection is available for shapes and three-dimensional marks but is difficult to pursue. Registration of a single colour is not possible.
- Multi-class applications are currently not possible and a separate application must be filed for each class of good and/or service to which a trade mark is or will be used.
- Applications for registration of geographical indications (a name or symbol which indicates the origin of goods reflecting a particular quality) is possible in Thailand.
- A trade mark registration may be removed from the register if it is not used for a period of three or more consecutive years after registration.
- Thai Customs provide cross-border measures for the protection of registered trade marks.
- Two forms of patent protection are available in Thailand: patents (equivalent to Australian standard patents) and petty patents (for lower level inventions).
- Patents generally have a 20 year term (patents issued prior to 30 September 1992 have a 15 year term). Petty patents may have a term of up to 10 years. Each is subject to payment of renewal fees.
- To be eligible for patent protection, an invention must be new, involve an inventive step and be capable of industrial application. An invention only needs to be new and capable of industrial application to be eligible for protection by petty patents.
- Certain types of subject matter are not patentable in Thailand. These include animal and plant extracts, computer programs, methods for medical treatment and business methods.
- Applications for patents filed in a foreign language must be translated to Thai within 90 days of filing.
- The term of protection in Thailand for registered designs is 10 years, subject to payment of annual fees from the fifth year onwards.
- Thailand has provisions for protection of plant variety rights for 12, 17 or 27 years, depending on the length of time it takes for the plant to mature for cultivation.