Cooperative MOU aims to reduce the number of pirated goods

Thailand

The National Police Bureau and the Intellectual Property Department have entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with various representatives of IP rights owners. The MOU was a result of the government's concern about the increasing number of pirated goods available in Thailand, particularly as the government is currently involved in negotiating a free trade agreement with a number of other countries.

Under the MOU, relevant agencies concentrate their operations on areas in Bangkok and beyond, referred to as the 'red zone' and the 'yellow zone'. The red zone covers those areas where counterfeit products are most often found (eg, Pantip Plaza and Patpong), and the yellow zone covers those areas where the number of counterfeit products is likely to increase (eg, Tawanna Plaza).

The local police force is obliged by the MOU to take steps to suppress the selling of counterfeit products in its areas of enforcement. It must also have officers on standby, ready to raid potential infringers' premises at the request of rights owners. Rights owners themselves have specific obligations under the MOU. They must (i) provide information to the police and department officials on the location and number of shops/stalls found selling counterfeit products, and (ii) not settle cases with red-zone infringers.

The MOU is open ended. Its main goal is to reduce the number of counterfeit products being sold in both zones, particularly those that are made blatantly available. An assessment of the programme will be conducted monthly by the police, rights owner representatives and department officials.

Although only in its initial phase, the campaign seems to be working - surveys conducted by officials in July show a reduction in the number of counterfeit products being sold in the targeted zones. Nevertheless, it remains to be seen whether the reduction will continue as hoped.

Say Sujintaya and Piyawat Kayasit, Baker & McKenzie, Bangkok

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