For many years, Thailand has sorely needed to improve its intellectual property enforcement laws to prevent copyright and trademark infringement. In an era when technology allows for new, widespread forms of IP infringement, Thai IP enforcement authorities have come to realize that measures against infringers under the current laws are insufficient and have failed to do enough to suppress this severe problem.
In 2009, the Department of Intellectual Property (DIP) sought to amend the Copyright and Trademark Acts so that provisions on landlord liability could be introduced, allowing rights owners and law enforcers to take legal action against landlords for infringements committed by a tenant on the landlord’s premises. This attempt was unsuccessful, however, as the Cabinet at that time returned the draft Acts and mandated the DIP to reconsider several controversial issues.
To comply with this mandate, the DIP is now in the process of conducting in-depth research on landlord liability, and Tilleke & Gibbins has been granted the honor of participating in this study. The ultimate goal of this project is to reintroduce landlord liability to the Acts through a more structured approach, by presenting the Cabinet and legislators with solid facts and legal principles in support of the amendments.
To achieve the desired objectives, the methods used in this research are not limited only to the study of the law and underlying legal principles of foreign countries. They also include considering the thoughts of the various key stakeholders—those who may be involved in the application of the legal measures against landlords once they come into effect, and those who may be affected by the application of these measures in Thailand—regardless of whether they support or oppose the amendments. Two separate focus groups, one for law enforcers (including IP rights owners, lawyers, judges, public prosecutors, and legal scholars) and another for landlords (consisting of entities from both the private and public sectors), will be heard and their opinions gathered. To gain additional insight, face-to-face interviews with both sides will be carried out. Once a report on the research is prepared, a seminar will be held to present our findings and conclusions to obtain final feedback.
We are very optimistic that our research will gather crucial information relevant to landlord liability and will assist in drafting the necessary legal amendments. Of course, this remains at an early stage and there is still a long way to go before we see the Acts debated in the House of Representatives. But this first crucial step by the DIP should encourage IP owners and law enforcement officials that, in the not-too-distant future, they may have access to an effective new tool for combating copyright and trademark piracy in Thailand.