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06BANGKOK3477 CLEANING UP PIRACY FOR THE KING

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67208″,”6/8/2006 10:23″,”06BANGKOK3477″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”UNCLASSIFIED”,””,”VZCZCXYZ0018

RR RUEHWEB

 

DE RUEHBK #3477/01 1591023

ZNR UUUUU ZZH

R 081023Z JUN 06

FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9394

RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC”,”UNCLAS BANGKOK 003477

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

STATE PASS USTR

USDOC FOR JKELLY, SWILSON

USDOC PASS USPTO FOR PFOWLER

 

E.O. 12958:N/A

TAGS: ECON, KIPR, TH

SUBJECT: CLEANING UP PIRACY FOR THE KING

 

1. Summary: In honor of the 60th anniversary of the KingQs

accession to the throne, Thailand has declared war on intellectual

property piracy, pledging to sweep the streets and malls clean of

pirated goods for the whole of June and July. Police and other

enforcement authorities will be taking the campaign nationwide, but

most efforts will be directed at the so-called \”Red Areas\”, where

piracy is particularly rampant. Little has been accomplished thus

far into the campaign, but a new MOU being negotiated between

enforcement authorities, rights holders and mall owners give hope

that IPR enforcement will be improved beyond the next two months.

End summary.

 

2. Police General Ukrit Patchimsawat, who replaced the

much-respected General Nopadol to take charge of IP enforcement, has

issued a directive to the 1400 police stations nationwide to put

together IPR suppression units for each force and assign an officer

to coordinate enforcement actions in their area. Enforcement

actions are to be undertaken at a higher tempo for the next two

months to keep the streets clear of any embarrassing sales of

illegal merchandise during the KingQs anniversary celebrations.

Piracy suppression will not be centrally directed, rather each

police precinct will have responsibility for taking enforcement

action in their locale and are required to submit regular reports to

central headquarters on their progress. General Ukrit has organized

two police teams to monitor police efforts and convince recalcitrant

stations to get with the program.

 

3. Department of Intellectual Property (DIP) officials insisted to

Econoff that this would not be just a showcase event, but hopes are

not high in the local IP community that the suppression campaign

will amount to a serious assault on piracy. On past occasions the

RTG has swept piracy away temporarily, as it did during the APEC

meetings in Bangkok in 2003, but the enforcement campaigns were

never sustained. The campaign was to have begun in earnest on June

1, but police have yet to make a real impact on sales of pirated

goods in any of the more notorious areas. A quick walk through IT

malls in Bangkok showed sales of pirated goods at the usual rampant

level. However, authorities apparently have had no difficulty

clearing all vendors (including pirated merchandise sellers as well

as noodle and satay carts) off the sidewalks of major thoroughfares

in a bid to clean the streets during the celebrations. The Bangkok

Metropolitan Authority (BMA) that regulates street sales simply told

vendors to take two weeks off. A few notorious sites for bootleg

sales have disappeared as part of the overall street cleaning, but

there is little doubt they will be back after the celebrations have

ended.

 

4. Some of the delay in enforcement can be attributed to protracted

negotiations over an MOU to manage the enforcement effort. On May

18, Deputy Minister of Commerce Preecha Louhapongchana convened a

meeting between enforcement authorities, rights holders and mall

owners to hammer out a new MOU to replace an earlier version signed

in June 2004. The draft MOU is based largely on the previous

version, but includes several provisions for which rights holders

 

have been lobbying for years.

 

5. The draft MOU calls for cooperation from department stores and

malls to terminate the leases of shops selling pirated merchandise.

In cases where DIP informs the mall owner that a tenant has been

prosecuted for IP offenses, the owner will be obligated to terminate

the lease. In the MOU negotiations, mall owners have bridled at

taking on that responsibility, concerned they may be exposed to

liability from lessees.

 

6. The draft MOU also outlines specific geographical areas and

malls where sale of infringing products is particularly severe,

identifying the worst as \”red areas\” and less severe as \”yellow

areas\”. Responsibility for IP enforcement in red areas is to be

conducted by RTG authorities who will regularly inspect the areas on

an ex officio basis. IP rights holders will lead enforcement

efforts in yellow areas, identifying potential targets and suspect

infringers for police action. Controversial is the proposal that

rights holders not settle arrests and seizures made in red areas.

It is, and will continue to be, legal to drop charges in an arrest

case in exchange for a financial settlement, but police hope a

gentlemanQs agreement with rights holders not to settle will improve

their enforcement efforts in the worst areas.

 

7. The Department of Special Investigations, set up to undertake

large-scale criminal investigations, is also party to the MOU and is

being recruited to follow up on police arrests and put increased

resources into pursuing in-depth investigations into pirate

organizations. Rights holders have long complained about the

refusal or inability of local police to conduct investigations,

typically closing the books on a case after an arrest, regardless of

any evidence found of further complicity. As a result, court

dockets have filled with cases of small-time dealers of infringing

product while the masterminds stay safely above the fray.

8. Comment: Although little is expected from the current

suppression campaign, a new MOU gives hope for long-term improvement

in IPR enforcement. Rights holders hope that any serious

enforcement action taken during this two-month period will at least

set a precedent for the future. The local IP community gives credit

to General Ukrit, who is committed and has put together a dedicated

team to tackle IP enforcement. End Comment.

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 12, 2011 at 4:50 am

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