Category: Thailand

USTR Releases Annual Out of Cycle Review of Notorious Markets

It is that time of year again when the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) releases its annual report on Notorious Markets—The 2014 Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets. As we reported on last year, this annual review identifies foreign physical and online markets reported by U.S. businesses and industry organizations as being engaged in substantial IP piracy and counterfeiting.

This year’s review identified several foreign social media and file transferring websites, as well as a number of Internet service providers (ISPs), as being notorious markets including those hosted or located in Argentina, the British Virgin Islands, Canada, China, Czech Republic, France, Netherlands, Panama, Philippines, Poland, Russia, San Marino, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and Vietnam. Additionally, physical markets in Argentina, Brazil, China, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, Paraguay, Thailand and Uruguay were also identified as being notorious markets.

The USTR also highlighted a number of recent developments including efforts by certain previously listed Chinese sites to curb piracy activities on their websites, as well as increased enforcement actions by rights holders and government officials to shut down physical and online markets in Brazil, the European Union and Ukraine among others.

What’s The Takeaway? As we have said before, every foreign market has its own IP protection challenges. U.S. businesses that operate abroad or are expanding into new markets should review the USTR’s 2014 Out of Cycle Review of Notorious Markets to help evaluate the IP protection risks associated with particular markets they wish to enter. Doing so can help to ensure that such businesses can better protect their IP assets abroad.

Enforcing Online Copyright Protections Abroad: Part II – South and East Asia

One of the most popular posts in The IP Exporter’s history was a posting last year entitled Enforcing Online Copyright Protections Abroad: Understanding Foreign Takedown Notice Requirements, which detailed how copyright owners and certain licensees of works (collectively “Rights Holders”) can directly enforce their rights in their works against foreign hosted websites in some of the world’s major markets (U.S., Australia, China, Japan, South Africa, and the United Kingdom).

Since I published that post, I have received numerous requests to provide information on procedures Rights Holders can take to directly enforce their rights online in several other foreign markets. To meet this demand, I have decided to ambitiously attempt to provide a multi-volume posting on the availability of notice and takedown procures in all countries throughout the world, starting with this post on notice and takedown procedures in South and East Asia.

However, before I delve into each country’s online copyright enforcement procedures, Rights Holders need to first evaluate a few issues before utilizing online copyright enforcement measures abroad.

1. Is the Work Entitled to Foreign Protection? A Rights Holder should not consider utilizing online takedown procedures in a foreign country without first establishing that their work qualifies for copyright protection in that foreign country. Often, this depends on whether their work qualifies for protection under: (1) the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (Berne Convention) or other bilateral or multilateral treaties; and (2) the national copyright laws of the foreign country in question.

Berne Convention/Treaties. To qualify for protection under the Berne Convention, a Rights Holder’s work must become what is known as “attached.” Attachment requires that either:

  • the author of the work be a national of a Berne Convention member state (A list of Berne Convention member states is available here);
  • the author is a habitual resident of a Berne Convention member state;
  • the work is first published (made available to the public) in a Berne Convention member state; or
  • the work is published in a Berne Convention member state within thirty (30) days after an initial publishing in a non-Berne Convention member state.

If a work does not qualify for protection under the Berne Convention, it may qualify for copyright protection in a foreign country under a bilateral or multilateral treaty between the author’s home country and the foreign country in question. If the non-Berne Convention country is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and has ratified the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), the work may qualify for Berne Convention-like protection in other WTO member states.

Additionally, a work may qualify for protection in a foreign country based on a bilateral or multilateral agreement. A database of IP-related treaties can be found here.

National Copyright Protection Requirements. If a work qualifies for protection under the Berne Convention, TRIPS, or another bilateral or multilateral treaty, it must then qualify for protection under the copyright laws of whatever foreign country the Rights Holder wishes to enforce their rights. Many countries have similar copyright protection requirements, yet they do differ. For example a copyright protected work in the U.S. is an “original work of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression.” 17 U.S.C. § 102(a). Conversely, a copyright protected work in Japan is “a production in which thoughts or sentiments are expressed in a creative way and which falls within the literary, scientific, artistic or musical domain.” Copyright Act. No. 48, Art. 2. Although these requirements end up covering much of the same types of works, there may be divergences depending on the type of work in question. A Rights Holder should consider consulting with qualified attorney in the country they wish to enforce their rights if they are unsure whether their work qualifies for local copyright protection.

2. Where is the Website’s ISP Subject to Jurisdiction? In order to effectively submit a takedown notice against an infringing website, the infringing website’s Internet service provider (ISP) must be subject to a country that has notice and takedown laws. This requires evaluating whether a notice and takedown country has personal jurisdiction over the ISP in question. Generally, a website’s ISP is only subject to the laws of a country where it is physically located or countries where it is engaged in enough commercial activity to establish personal jurisdiction. Determining an infringing website’s ISP’s location may be completed through conducting a WHOIS database search. However, such a search is a not guarantee that a website ISP’s will be accurately located.

Further, determining whether a website’s ISP is subject to a foreign country’s jurisdiction is a complex legal evaluation that differs from country to country based on each country’s own personal jurisdiction requirements. Again, a Rights Holder should consider consulting with qualified counsel in the country where they wish to submit a takedown notice to determine whether the ISP in question is subject to that country’s jurisdiction.

3. What is the Country’s National Online Copyright Enforcement System? If a work qualifies for copyright protection in a foreign country where an infringing website’s ISP is subject to personal jurisdiction, a Rights Holder then needs to establish whether that country has a notice and takedown system, and if available, such country’s specific takedown procedures.

Below is a brief overview of each South and East Asian country’s copyright enforcement system. However, there are few things to first consider:

Enforcement System Legend: Countries that maintain legal protocols for Rights Holders to directly petition ISPs to remove infringing content are identified below as a “Notice and Takedown Systems.” Countries that do not have means for Rights Holders to directly enforce their copyright protections through ISP notification systems, and are instead forced to seek copyright enforcement action through the Courts are referred to as “Judicial Systems.”

Notice Limitations: Unfortunately, even if a country maintains a Notice and Takedown System, an ISP may still refuse to disable a website or website content upon receipt of a takedown notice from a Right Holder. In such instances, a Rights Holder may be forced to seek enforcement through that foreign country’s judicial system in order to remove such content.

Time Sensitivity: As many of the listed countries in this posting are either evaluating or in the process of implementing copyright reforms, either on a national level or through bilateral or multilateral trade agreements, there is the possibility that the following information may soon change.

Here are each country’s online copyright enforcement system:

Afghanistan

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: No

Overview and Notes: Afghanistan is not a Berne Convention or TRIPS member state, meaning that foreign works may not qualify for copyright protection under Afghan Law. However, works from the U.S. may be entitled to certain legal protections in Afghanistan under the Joint Statement of Commercial Cooperation between U.S. and Afghan governments as both governments agreed to “establish a forum for the exchange of information on commercial matters . . . including intellectual property rights protection and enforcement.” However, the Joint Statement provides no specific details on what rights U.S. Rights Holders are entitled to under Afghan law.

Governing Legislation: Law Supporting the Rights of Authors, Composers, Artists and Researchers (Copyright Law)

Notice Requirements: N/A

Bangladesh

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Bangladesh does not currently provide any legal incentives or procedures for ISPs to remove hosted infringing content upon notice from Rights Holders.

Governing Legislation: Copyright Act, 2000 (Act No. 28 of 2000 – Amended 2005)

Notice Requirements: N/A

Bhutan

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Bhutan does not currently provide any legal incentives or procedures for ISPs to remove hosted infringing content upon notice from Rights Holders.

Governing Legislation: Copyright Act and Industrial Property Act of 2001

Notice Requirements: N/A

Brunei Darussalam

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Brunei does not currently provide any legal incentives or procedures for ISPs to remove hosted infringing content upon notice from Rights Holders. Particularly, Article 10 of the Electronic Transactions Order (2000) eliminates an ISP’s liability for hosting infringing third party content. However, Brunei may adopt a Notice and Takedown System in the future if the U.S.’ Proposed IPR Chapter of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) is adopted.

Governing Legislation: Emergency Copyright Ordinance (2000)

Notice Requirements: N/A

Cambodia

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes*

Overview and Notes: Cambodia is not a Berne Convention member state but is a TRIPS signatory, which requires upholding much of the Berne Convention’s protections. However, Cambodia does not currently provide any legal incentives or procedures for ISPs to remove hosted infringing content upon notice from Rights Holders.

Governing Legislation: Law on Copyright and Related Rights

Notice Requirements: N/A

China (PRC)

Enforcement System: Notice and Takedown System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Although China maintains and a Notice and Takedown System, there has been reports that many of China’s major ISPs fail to takedown hosted content upon receipt of legitimate takedown notices. For example, the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) has criticized Baidu for its 42% takedown rate.

Governing Legislation: Article 14, Regulations on the Protection of the Right to Network Dissemination of Information Networks

Notice Requirements:

-The Rights Holder’s name, address and contact information;
-The title(s) and website address(es) of the infringing content which is requested to be removed or disconnected;
-Preliminary evidence of the work(s)’ infringement; and
-A request that the ISP remove the infringing content.

East Timor (Timor Leste)

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: No

Overview and Notes: By not being a Berne Convention or TRIPS member state, foreign works may not qualify for copyright protection under East Timorese law. Further, East Timor has not passed any specific copyright legislation since its independence in 2002.

Governing Legislation: N/A

Notice Requirements: N/A

Hong Kong

Enforcement System: Voluntary Notice and Takedown System/Judicial System.

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Although the Hong Kong Commerce and Economic Development Bureau drafted a proposed Notice and Takedown system in the Code of Conduct for Online Service Providers, Hong Kong has yet to formally enact a Notice and Takedown system. The Code of Conduct’s notice and takedown provisions have since become voluntary guidelines for Rights Holders and ISPs to manage online copyright infringement complaints.

Governing Legislation: Section 3.5, Form A, Code of Conduct for Online Service Providers (voluntary guidelines), Copyright Ordinance (Cap. 528) (mandatory)

Notice Requirements (from the Code of Conduct):

-The Rights Holder’s name, address for service in Hong Kong, contact telephone number, and any other relevant contact information;
-Particulars of the copyright work(s) alleged to be infringed including the name or description of the copyright work(s), type of work(s), date of creation or first publication of the copyright work(s), and name of the current owner of the work;
-A statement confirming that the Rights Holder submitting the complaint is the copyright owner or authorized representative of the copyright owner;
-Identification and online location of the material and/or activity which is the subject of the alleged infringement;
-In cases of information location tools, identification of the reference or link to the material or activity in question and its location;
-Description of how the material or activity in question infringes the copyright owner’s rights in the copyright work(s);
-A statement that the submitting Rights Holder believes in good faith that use of the material, or conduct of the activity in the manner complained of is not authorized by the law of Hong Kong, the copyright owner or its authorized representative(s);
-A request that the ISP send a copy of the notice to its subscriber whose account for online services has been used or involved in the alleged infringement;
-A request that the ISP remove the allegedly infringing material, disable access to the infringing material/activity;
-A declaration that the submitting Rights Holder declares that the information contained in this notice is true and accurate to the best of his knowledge and belief;
-A declaration that the submitting Rights Holder understands that it is an offence to make any false statement in this notice (the maximum penalty of which is a fine of HK$5,000 and imprisonment of 2 years), and that he or she is also liable to pay compensation by way of damages to any person who suffers loss or damage as a result of the false statement; and
-Signature and date of the submitting Rights Holder.

India

Enforcement System: Notice and Takedown System (temporary)

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: India’s notice and takedown protocols establish that allegedly infringing content will be taken down 36 hours after a Rights Holder submits a takedown notice to an ISP, and the ISP provides notice of the Rights Holder’s notice submission to the alleged infringer. If the Rights Holder’s notice is satisfactory to the ISP, the ISP will restrict access to the infringing website(s) for 21 days from the date of receipt of the Rights Holder’s notice or until the ISP receives a Court order restricting public access to the alleged infringing website(s), whichever is earlier.

It is important to note that only an owner or an exclusive licensee of a copyright-protected work may submit a notice pursuant to India’s notice and takedown protocols.

Governing Legislation: Rule 75, The Copyright Rules, 2013

Notice Requirements:

-The description of the work infringed with adequate information to identify the work;
-Details establishing that the submitting Rights Holder is the owner or exclusive licensee of copyright in the work;
-Details establishing that the copy of the work which is the subject matter of transient or incidental storage is an infringing copy of the work owned or exclusively licensed by the submitting Rights Holder and that the allegedly infringing act is not covered under section 52 or any other act that is permitted under the Copyright Act (1957);
-Details of the location where transient or incidental storage of the work is taking place;
-Details of the person, if known, who is responsible for uploading the work infringing the copyright of the submitting Rights Holder; and
-Signature and date of the submitting Rights Holder.

Indonesia

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Indonesia does not currently provide any legal incentives or procedures for ISPs to remove hosted infringing content upon notice from Rights Holders. The Indonesian Parliament is reported to be evaluating amendments to its copyright laws that will create a Rights Holder Internet copyright notification system through the Ministry of Communications and Informatics that will evaluate alleged infringements and order that ISPs takedown infringing content. The IIPA has criticized this proposed copyright enforcement system as it does not provide injunctive relief against non-compliant ISPs, nor a repeat infringer policy, or allow Rights Holders to submit complaint notices directly to ISPs.

Governing Legislation: Law No. 19 of July 29, 2002 on Copyright

Notice Requirements: N/A

Japan

Enforcement System: Notice and Takedown System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Japan’s notice and takedown protocols establish that allegedly infringing content will be taken down seven (7) days after a Rights Holder submit a notice to an ISP, and the ISP provides notice to the alleged infringer.

Governing Legislation: Article 3(2)(ii), Act No. 137 0f 2001 (Act on the Limitation of Liability for Damages of Specified Telecommunications Service Providers and the Right to Demand Disclosure of Identification Information of the Senders)

Notice Requirements:

-Information and location of the particular alleged infringement;
-Suggested enforcement actions to be taken by the ISP;
-The rights in the work that are allegedly being infringed;
-The reasoning why the Rights Holder believes that an infringement has taken place; and
-The Rights Holder’s contact information.

Laos

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Laos does not currently provide any legal incentives or procedures for ISPs to remove hosted infringing content upon notice from Rights Holders.

Governing Legislation: Law No. 01/NA of December 20, 2011, on Intellectual Property

Notice Requirements: N/A

Macau

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Macau does not currently provide any legal incentives or procedures for ISPs to remove hosted infringing content upon notice from Rights Holders.

Governing Legislation: Decree-Law no. 43/99/M (Regime of Copyright and Related Rights)

Notice Requirements: N/A

Malaysia

Enforcement System: Notice and Takedown System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Malaysia recently enacted copyright reforms that permit Rights Holders to submit infringement notices to ISPs that will remove hosted infringing content within 48 hours of notice of the alleged infringement to the ISP. However, Malaysia’s notice and takedown protocols do not providing specific notice requirements.

Governing Legislation: Article 43H – Copyright (Amendment) Act 2012

Notice Requirements: As mentioned, Malaysia does not provide specific requirements for ISP takedown notices.

Maldives

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes*

Overview and Notes: Maldives is not a Berne Convention member state, yet is a TRIPS signatory that requires that  Maldives uphold much of the Berne Convention’s protections. Maldives does not currently provide any legal incentives or procedures for ISPs to remove hosted infringing content upon notice from Rights Holders.

Governing Legislation: Copyright and Related Rights Act 2010

Notice Requirements: N/A

Mongolia

Enforcement System: Notice and Takedown System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Mongolia’s copyright legislation requires that ISPs prevent any copyright violation on websites they host and provide Right Holders the ability to enforce their rights through submitting reports to the ISPs of such violations. However, the legislation provides no specific requirements for such “reports.”

Governing Legislation: Article 25, Law of Mongolia on Copyright and Related Rights

Notice Requirements: Unspecified

Myanmar

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes*

Overview and Notes: Myanmar is not a Berne Convention member state, yet is a TRIPS signatory. However, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization, Myanmar’s current copyright laws “do not prescribe copyright of other countr[ies] to be recorded in Myanmar and copyright obtained in other countries can not be enforced in [Myanmar].”

Further, Myanmar does not currently provide any legal incentives or procedures for ISPs to remove hosted infringing content upon notice from Rights Holders.

Governing Legislation: Copyright Act of 1914

Notice Requirements: N/A

Nepal

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Nepal does not currently provide any legal incentives or procedures for ISPs to remove hosted infringing content upon notice from Rights Holders.

Governing Legislation: Copyright Act, 2059 (2002)

Notice Requirements: N/A

North Korea

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: North Korea does not currently provide any legal incentives or procedures for ISPs to remove hosted infringing content upon notice from Rights Holders.

Governing LegislationCopyright Law of the DPPK (Amended by Decree No. 1532 of February 1, 2006)

Notice Requirements: N/A

Pakistan

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Pakistan does not currently provide any legal incentives or procedures for ISPs to remove hosted infringing content upon notice from Rights Holders.

Governing LegislationCopyright (Amendment) Act, 1992

Notice Requirements: N/A

Philippines

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Philippines does not currently provide any legal incentives or procedures for ISPs to remove hosted infringing content upon notice from Rights Holders.

Governing Legislation: E-Commerce Act (Republic Act. No. 8792)

Notice Requirements: N/A

Taiwan

Enforcement System: Notice and Takedown System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Taiwan’s notice and takedown protocols establish that allegedly infringing content will be taken down five days after notice is provided from a Rights Holder to an ISP, and from the ISP to the alleged infringer.

Governing Legislation: Article 3 – Regulations Governing Implementation of ISP Civil Liability Exemption, Article 90terdecies – the Copyright Act

Notice Requirements:

-The Rights Holder’s name, address, and telephone number (or fax number or e-mail address);
-The name(s) of the copyrighted work(s) being infringed;
-A statement requesting the removal of, or disabling of access to, the content that allegedly infringes the identified copyrighted work(s);
-Access or relevant information sufficient to enable the notified ISP to identify the allegedly infringing content;
-A statement that the Rights Holder or the agent thereof is acting in good faith and in the belief that the allegedly infringing content lacks lawful licensing or is otherwise in violation of the Copyright Act; and
-A declaration that the Rights Holder is willing to bear legal liability in the event there is misrepresentation with resultant injury to another.

Thailand

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Prior to its dissolution in December 2013, Thailand’s Parliament had evaluated copyright law reforms to enhance online copyright enforcement. However, such proposed reforms would only allow Thai Courts to issue takedown orders against ISPs hosting infringing content and provided no direct notice and takedown procedures for Rights Holders to directly petition ISPs to remove infringing content.

Governing Legislation: Copyright Act B.E. 2537 (1994)

Notice Requirements: N/A

South Korea

Enforcement System: Notice and Takedown System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: South Korea adopted notice and takedown protocols mirroring measures under U.S. copyright law (DMCA – 17 U.S.C. § 512) based on a side letter annexed in the U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement.

Governing Legislation: Article 102-103 – Copyright Act

Notice Requirements:

-Statement that the information in the notice is accurate;
-Information reasonably sufficient to enable the ISP to identify the copyrighted work(s) that appear to have been infringed;
-The identity, address, telephone number and electronic mail address of the submitting Rights Holder;
-Statement that the submitting Rights Holder has a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by copyright owner, its agent, or the law;
-Statement with sufficient indicia of reliability (such as a statement under penalty of perjury or equivalent legal sanctions) that the submitting Rights Holder is the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed or is authorized to act on the Rights Holder’s behalf; and
-Signature of the submitting Rights Holder.

Singapore

Enforcement System: Notice and Takedown System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Singapore adopted its notice and takedown protocols in 2006 based on a side letter agreement annexed in the U.S-Singapore Free Trade Agreement.

Governing Legislation: Section 193(2)(b) – Copyright Act (Chapter 63), Copyright (Network Service Provider) Regulations 2005

Notice Requirements:

-Name and address of the submitting Rights Holder;
-Submitting Rights Holder address for service in Singapore (if a non-Singapore resident);
-Submitting Rights Holder’s telephone number, fax number and e-mail address;
-Identification of copyright material and location of allegedly infringing content;
-A statement that the information in the notice is accurate;
-A statement that the submitting Rights Holder is the owner or exclusive licensee of the copyright in the material referred to in complaint or is authorized to act on behalf of the owner or exclusive licensee of the copyright in the material referred to in the notice;
-A statement that the submitting Rights Holder requires the ISP to remove or disable access to the allegedly infringing content;
-A statement that the submitting Rights Holder or their agent, in good faith, believes that the electronic copy referred to in the notice is an infringing copy of the protected material content;
-A statement that the submitting Rights Holder is the owner, exclusive licensee, or agent thereof of the copyrighted content; and
-A statement that the submitting Rights Holder submits to the jurisdiction of the courts in Singapore for the purposes of any proceedings relating to any offense under section 193DD(1) of the Copyright Act or any liability under section 193DD(1)(b) of the Copyright Act.

Sri Lanka

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Sri Lanka does not currently provide any legal incentives or procedures for ISPs to remove hosted infringing content upon notice from Rights Holders.

Governing Legislation: Intellectual Property Act, No. 36 of 2003

Notice Requirements: N/A

Vietnam

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Although Vietnam recently considered Internet liability reforms as detailed in the proposed Stipulations on the Responsibilities for Intermediary Service Providers in the Protection of Copyright and Related Rights on the Internet and Telecommunications Networks (Joint Circular No. 07/2012/TTLT-BTTTT-BVHTTDL), such reforms have yet to be enacted and do not contain any specific notice and takedown provisions. However, Vietnam may adopt notice and takedown procedures in the future if the U.S.’ draft IPR provisions of the TPP are adopted.

Governing Legislation: Law No. 50/2005

Notice Requirements: N/A

USTR Requesting Public Comments to Assist in Identifying Foreign IP Protection Barriers for U.S. Exports

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) announced yesterday that it is requesting public comments to assist the USTR in identifying significant barriers to U.S. exports of goods and services, including foreign IP protection deficiencies. The comments are being collected for inclusion in the USTR’s annual National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers (NTE Report) that identifies barriers to U.S. exports including the “lack of intellectual property protection (e.g., inadequate patent, copyright, and trademark regimes).”

Last year’s NTE Report identified several U.S. export markets as possessing IP protection trade barriers, or at least IP protection concerns, including Angola, Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, European Union (member states), Ghana, Guatemala, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Laos, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Venezuela.

Public comments for inclusion in this year’s NTE Report are due to the USTR by no later that October 29, 2014. Further instructions on the NTE public comment submission process are available here.

EU Expands Enforcement Protections Against Counterfeit Goods: What IP Rights Holders Should Know

Last month, the European Parliament passed legislation and the European Court of Justice (CJEU) handed down a ruling that expands trade-related intellectual property (IP) protections in the European Union (EU) and beyond. Particularly, the European Parliament passed laws granting EU customs officials the ability to detain trademark counterfeit transshipments transiting the EU, while the CJEU ruled that EU customs authorities can seize counterfeit goods in the EU that were purchased for personal use from sellers outside the EU. Although these are positive developments that provide IP rights holders the ability to stem the flow of infringing goods, and ultimately better enforce their IP rights across borders, they also have important requirements and limitations that need to be understood.

Counterfeit Transshipments. On February 25th, the European Parliament approved amendments to the EU’s main trademark act (Council Regulation (EC) 207/2009) that will permit EU customs authorities to seize suspected trademark counterfeit goods that are being transshipped through the EU. According to reports, these reforms follow previous limitations on customs seizures that were handed down in recent CJEU decisions. Particularly, a joint 2011 CJEU decision (Koninklijke Philips Electronics NV v. Lucheng Meijing Industrial Co. Ltd. (C-446/09) and Nokia Corporation v. HMRC (C-495/09)) held that copyright and trademark counterfeit goods could only be seized by EU customs officials if they were intended for sale in the EU, and not merely transiting through EU territory.

The new Directive (T7-0118/2014) is an attempt to reverse (in part) the 2011 joint CJEU ruling by granting EU trademark owners expanded rights to legal action. According to the legislative text, a EU trademark owner will have the right to prevent others from bringing non-circulated goods into the EU that bear the owner’s trademark without authorization. This includes the “right to request national customs authorities to take action in respect of goods which allegedly infringe the [IP rights holder’s] rights.”

Beyond giving IP rights holders valuable protection against the flow of counterfeit goods into the EU, the Directive also has IP protection implications beyond Europe. According to the latest statistics available from the World Shipping Council, eight of the 50 largest container ports in the world are located in the EU. The Directive thereby gives IP rights holders the ability to stop counterfeit goods leaving a substantial number of the world’s major transshipment points, thereby limiting the global dissemination of goods infringing their marks.

Although the reforms are a welcomed enhancement of cross-border protections for IP rights holders, there are a few considerations and limitations IP rights holders should be aware of:

Trademarks Only. The Directive only applies to trademarks. Although an IP rights holder can register their EU trademarks, copyright, patents and geographical indications for monitoring by EU customs officials, the Directive’s transshipment protections only apply to trademark counterfeit goods. Similar measures may be soon adopted to prevent transshipments of counterfeit copyright goods through the EU as the European Commission is currently evaluating copyright reforms. Yet, the Directive’s exclusion of copyright counterfeit goods is particularly problematic as copyright counterfeit goods constitute a substantial amount of counterfeit goods being transshipped through the EU and other major markets.

Community Trademark Registration Required. To qualify for transshipment counterfeit protections under the Directive, a trademark owner would likely need to register their mark on a community-wide (EU) level with the Office of Harmonization for the Internal Market (OHIM). Each EU member state maintains their own trademark offices, granting a registered mark exclusive protection in their state respectively. Yet, a trademark owner would likely need a community trademark registration to qualify for the Directive’s transshipment protections as the Directive’s text only identifies “European Union trademarks” as qualifying for such protections. Fortunately, qualifying foreign IP rights holders may be able to more easily (and cheaply) obtain community registration(s) through registering their trademark(s) through the Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks (Madrid Protocol). However, requiring a community trademark registration to qualify for the Directive’s new protections puts EU member state trademark owners at a disadvantage compared to community trademark owners.

Customs Recordation Required. A trademark owner or rights holder would need to record their community trademark registration with EU customs authorities to qualify for the Directive’s new transshipment protections. Although customs recordation is not a specific requirement under the Directive to qualify for the enhanced transshipment protections, it is required to ensure EU customs officials are made aware of a community mark owner’s or right holder’s registration.

Directive Has Yet to be Enacted. Lastly, it is important to note that the Directive has yet to be enacted in EU member states and it remains to be seen how it will be implemented. EU member states have 30 months to implement the new Directive into their national laws, and although they are obligated to adopt the laws effectively and in the spirit of the Directive, the member states’ implementing legislation may have specific divergences.

Counterfeits for Personal Use. On February 6, 2014, CJEU ruled in Blomqvist v. Rolex SA (C‑98/13) that EU customs officials could seize and destroy non-EU originating counterfeit goods in the EU that were purchased by EU citizens for personal use. In Blomqvist, a Danish citizen bought a fake Rolex watch from a Chinese online seller. When the watch entered Denmark, Danish customs reported the suspected counterfeit to Rolex’s IP rights holder, who in turn demanded the destruction of the counterfeit watch. Danish courts found that because the counterfeit watch was purchased from a non-EU seller who was not directly selling or advertising to EU consumers, and because the watch was purchased for personal use, such a purchase did not constitute trademark or copyright infringement by the purchaser under Danish law.

The CJEU in Blomqvist reversed and found that Rolex’s copyright and trademarks were infringed, and that a EU IP rights holder does not have to prove that a non-EU seller was directly trying to sell or advertise counterfeit goods for personal use in the EU in order for EU customs officials to seize imports of the counterfeit goods. Under the EU’s previous customs regulations (Council Regulation 1383/2003), a EU trademark or copyright owner would have to prove that the counterfeit seller was directly trying to market their counterfeit goods to EU consumers in order for the personal purchase to be subject to infringement and seizure. As reported by commentators, the Blomqvist Court differed from the Council Regulation by establishing that an IP rights holder is entitled to protection of their EU trademark or copyright whenever an infringement of the same occurs in EU territory, and that counterfeit goods can be seized whenever such infringing goods enter EU territory.

Although the Blomqvist ruling gives IP rights holders stronger protections against foreign counterfeit sellers, like the Directive, there are considerations and limitations IP rights holders should be aware of:

EU IP Protection and Customs Recordation Required. Like the Directive, a trademark or copyright owner would need to ensure that their IP qualifies for protection in the EU and that they have recorded such IP with EU customs authorities in order to qualify for protections under Blomqvist.

Additional Investigation Suggested. Qualifying IP rights owners will likely need to investigate and track suspected non-EU counterfeit sellers to determine when and to whom they are selling personal counterfeit goods to ensure effective protection under Blomqvist. Rolex was fortunate in Blomqvist that a single counterfeit of their watch was detected by EU customs authorities. Unfortunately, not all brands are as well known as Rolex. A similar counterfeit personal purchase shipment for a lesser known brand may not have been as easily identified by EU customs authorities. These circumstances mean that an IP rights holder may need to perform their own monitoring to effectively detect personal shipments of counterfeit goods entering the EU. Unfortunately, this can be an expensive service that many IP rights owners do not have the resources to obtain.

What’s The Takeaway? These recent EU counterfeit enforcement reforms show that the EU is serious about preventing the cross-border flow of counterfeit goods. IP rights owners who have had problems with IP enforcement in the EU or through transshipments originating in the EU, now (or will soon) have enhanced means to protect their IP against counterfeits. Despite these advancements, IP rights holders should work closely with their counsel to ensure they understand and comply with the requirements and limitations of these recent reforms.

The Colonel and Hitler: How KFC Could Have Handled Trademark Tarnishment in Thailand

Earlier this summer, several news outlets reported that U.S. fast food conglomerate Yum! Brands, the operator of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), was considering taking legal action against a fast food restaurant in Bangkok, Thailand shockingly called “Hitler.” The Hitler restaurant was selling fast food under a logo similar to KFC’s iconic logo, replacing the face of Colonel Harland Sanders, KFC’s founder with his signature white suit and string tie, with the face of Adolph Hitler, former German Chancellor, warmonger and mass-murderer.

Despite the Hitler restaurant’s subsequent removal of their offensive interpretation of the KFC logo, the incident highlighted legal issues businesses may face in foreign markets beyond the unauthorized use of their marks (aka infringement). I’m talking about foreign trademark tarnishment. Trademark tarnishment is the unauthorized use of a well-known mark that degrades consumers’ positive associations with such mark, thereby harming the mark’s overall reputation.[1]

What does this mean in an international context? Foreign trademark tarnishment can result in reduced foreign demand for a business’ goods or services, and hinder their ability to take advantage of foreign market opportunities. Although protecting against trademark tarnishment is generally difficult, KFC’s recent altercation with the Hitler restaurant shows ways in which foreign businesses can take advantage of foreign national trademark laws to protect their marks against tarnishment—even if such countries do not main specific protections against tarnishment.

Thai trademark law does not providing express protections against tarnishment. However, KFC’s logo likely qualifies for tarnishment-like protections in Thailand because it would qualify as a “well-known mark.” Unlike the U.S. and other common law countries (Australia, Canada, India, South Africa and the United Kingdom, among others), Thailand is a “first to file” country, meaning that a mark can normally only obtain full protection under Thai law through registration with the Thai Department of Intellectual Property (DIP). However, Section 8(10) of the Thai Trademark Act (“Act”) acknowledges rights for unregistered well-known marks.  Since 2005, an unregistered mark can be designated as a well-known mark under Thai trademark law if it meets several evidentiary criteria upon petition to the DIP’s Board of Well-Known Marks.[2]

Similar to most countries, meeting such criteria in Thailand generally requires that a mark possess nationwide recognition. Article 16(2) of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and Article 16bis of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property require that a mark have nationwide recognition among consumers to qualify as a well-known mark.[3] Likewise, Thailand requires that a mark have nationwide consumer recognition, yet this recognition can be established through predominant use of the mark abroad.[4] Once established, a well-known mark is granted protections in all classes of goods and services.[5]

In the case of KFC, it is likely that their logo qualifies as a well-known mark in Thailand based on KFC’s global and national recognition. KFC has more than 450 outlets in Thailand and approximately 15,000 outlets worldwide—not to mention extensive global advertising and promotional campaigns.[6] These facts likely qualify the KFC logo for well-known mark protection in Thailand (upon petition), giving KFC broad protection under the Act for its logo among multiple if not all classes of goods and services.

By obtaining trademark protection, a trademark owner can normally prevent others from most forms of unauthorized use of such mark. Yet, you might asking yourself, o.k., while supplanting Adolf Hitler for Colonel Sanders is detestable, isn’t it permitted as free speech? The answer varies from country-to-country and from case-to-case. Several major markets including the U.S., the European Union and India, recognize that unauthorized users of a mark may defend against infringement or tarnishment claims through fair use, namely the ability to use a registered mark for legitimate free speech purposes such as parody. In the U.S., such a defense is upheld sometimes in a confusing way. For example, a U.S. Court found that the unauthorized noncommercial use of marks from a L.L. Bean catalogue can be parodied in an adult magazine, but the unauthorized use of the Dallas Cowboys football cheerleading team’s trademark in a pornographic film did not.[7] In terms of Nazis and terrorists, a U.S. Court did allow an unauthorized user to conjure up Nazi and Al-Qaeda themes in their use of Wal-Mart’s well-known mark when such use was non-commercial.[8]

Fortunately for KFC, Thailand does not appear to afford such a fair use defense. Section 109 of the Act prohibits any person who “imitates” a registered mark to mislead the public as to its true ownership, subjecting such user to fines up to 200,000 Baht (approx. US$ 6,250.00) and/or two years imprisonment. Due to the inherent broadness of “imitates” without any express fair use defenses provided under the Act, Thailand appears to possess little to no trademark fair use exceptions for parody or other recognized fair uses. Based on these facts, KFC would likely be able to seek enforcement of their trademark rights in their logo as a well-known mark against the Hitler restaurant.

What’s the takeaway? The moral of this story is that understanding foreign national IP laws can help businesses to find effective solutions to protect against tarnishment and other unauthorized uses abroad, even if such protections are not expressly provided in foreign national legislation. Although few business maintain as well-known marks as KFC’s logo, most businesses can adopt tailored foreign trademark protection strategies to prevent tarnishment or infringement of their marks. Businesses who have tarnishment issues in a particular market should consult with qualified local counsel to understand what protections can be afforded to their marks.


[1] Britt N. Lovejoy, Tarnishing The Dilution by Tarnishment Cause of Action: Starbucks Corp. v. Wolfe’s Borough Coffee, Inc. and V Secret Catalogue, Inc. v. Moseley, Compared, 26 Berkeley Tech. L. J. 623, 626 (2011) (citing J. Thomas McCarthy, 4 McCarthy On  Trademarks & Unfair Competition § 24:89 (4th ed.)).
[2] See Somboon Earterasarun, Criteria In Determining Well-Known Trademarks in Thailand, Tilleke & Gibbins, (2010), available at http://www.tilleke.com/sites/default/files/2010-AsiaIP-Criteria-Well-Known-TM_0.pdf.
[3] See Keola R. Whittaker, Trademark Dilution in a Global Age, 27 U. Pa. J. Int’l Econ. L. 907, 937 (2006).
[4] Department of Intellectual Property Regulations on Recordal of Well-Known Marks B.E. 2548 (AD 2005), Ch. 7, 11.
[5] Say Sujintaya and Jomjai Jintasuwon, Well-known Trademarks in Thailand – A Bump in the Road, Baker & McKenzie, Mar. 23, 2012, available at http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=ce280c13-d28e-45f6-8a45-e45a9af8a74e.
[6] About KFC, KFC.com, available at www.kfc.com/about; Yum! Brands, Yum! Financial Data, Restaurant Counts (2012), available at http://yum.com/investors/restcounts.asp.
[7] See L.L. Bean, Inc. v. Drake Publishers, Inc., 811 F.2d 26, 34 (1st. Cir. 1987); compare Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, Inc. v. Pussycat Cinema, Ltd., 467 F. Supp. 366, 376 (S.D.N.Y. 1979).
[8] See Smith v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 537 F. Supp. 2d 1302, 1339-40 (N.D. Ga. 2008) (Use of the terms WAL★OCAUST and WAL-QAEDA in referencing Wal-Mart’s trademarks in tee-shirts was held to be protected parodic noncommercial speech).

Understanding Foreign IP Customs Notification Registration Procedures

In recent years, many national customs offices have established notification procedures to allow IP rights holders the ability to alert customs officials of their IP rights in order to assist them in their import inspection activities. Like Internet Service Provider takedown requests on the Internet (more information about these procedures), IP customs office notifications is a tool for IP rights holders to protect their IP rights abroad by reducing the global spread of infringing goods and content by preventing its cross-border transit—and in many cases, assisting in its destruction. However, to utilize such protection measures, an IP rights holder must ask themselves:

  1. Can you submit such a notification in a particular country?
  2. Does the country you wish to enforce your IP rights have an IP customs notification system?
  3. Does such a country’s national IP customs notification system include the type of IP you wish to protect?
  4. What are the particular foreign customs agency’s IP notification requirements?

Can you submit a IP customs notification? Generally, an IP rights holder can only submit an IP customs notification to a foreign customs office if their IP qualifies for protection in that foreign country. Determining if particular IP qualifies for protection in a country depends on the type of IP the rights holder wishes to protect and to what extent the rights holder has secured foreign legal protections. Here is how it breaks down:

Trademarks. If an IP rights holder wants to submit a foreign customs notification to protect a trademark or service mark in another country, they usually need to have registered that mark in the IP office of that specific country or through a centralized international registration mechanism like the Madrid Protocol (more information about the Madrid Protocol). This is because trademark protection is territorial, meaning that a trademark or service mark registration only grants its owner rights in the mark in the territory of the registering country. So for example, if a U.S. company registers its trademark in the U.S. for particular goods or services and wishes to protect that trademark against infringing imports into New Zealand, it must also register that mark through the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand or the Madrid Protocol in order to submit a trademark notification to the New Zealand Customs Service.

Of course there are some important exceptions to this territoriality requirement to keep in mind. The European Union maintains a community-wide trademark system (Community Trade Mark) allowing one community registration to qualify for customs notification registration in all EU member states (a list of EU member states is available here). The African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI) also maintains a community trademark system where a single OAPI community mark registration is recognized in 16 African nations (a list of EU member states is available here).

Patents. Like trademarks, a patent rights holder must generally have a registered patent in the country to which they wish to register an IP customs notification. Unlike trademarks, however, there are no current community registration exceptions. As a result, patent rights holders must register their patents in the country to which they wish to register their IP customs notifications.

Trade Secrets: Generally, as trade secrets require that their owners keep the content of their secrets confidential in order to maintain its legal protections, any disclosure of such secrets to customs officials likely eliminates such secrets’ protections. Therefore, there does not appear to be any national customs IP notification systems that permit trade secret notification.

Copyright. Unlike trademarks and patents, a work qualifying for copyright protection in one country may qualify for copyright protection in other countries in order to allow foreign customs notification registration. However, depending on the country, foreign copyright authors may need to file a copyright registration in order to submit an IP customs notification. A work qualifies for international copyright protection under the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (Berne Convention) when it becomes attached. Attachment requires that the author of the work be a national of a Berne Convention country (Berne Convention countries), the author is a habitual resident of a Berne Convention country, that the work is first published in a Berne Convention country, or that the work is published in a Berne Convention country within 30 days after an initial publishing in a non-Berne Convention country. If a work is attached through any of these means, it is treated as if the work originated in each Berne Convention country, and is then subject to each Berne Convention country’s copyright protection requirements in order to qualify for copyright protection in that specific country.

If a work qualifies as an attached work under the Berne Convention and the IP rights holder wishes to register their protected work in a foreign Berne Convention country customs office, they will be able to file a customs registration without having authored the work in the foreign Berne Convention country. Yet, as mentioned above, countries differ on national copyright registration requirements for IP customs notifications. Australia, for example, does not require Australian copyright registration prior to submitting a customs notification application to the Australian Customs Service. However, several major markets, such as the U.S., China and India, require that copyrighted works be registered in their country prior to registering an IP customs notification.

Does the country you wish to enforce your IP rights have an IP customs notification system? Not all countries maintain IP customs notification processes. Some substantial and growing markets, such as Brazil, Canada and Chile, do not currently maintain IP custom notification systems. However, many major markets and transshipment countries maintain various types of IP customs notification systems including Argentina, Australia, China, European Union (EU), Hong Kong, India, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United States and Vietnam, among others.

Does such a country’s national IP customs notification system include the type of IP you wish to protect? Several countries only maintain IP notification systems for particular types of IP. For example, The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) only accepts copyright and trademark notifications, not patent notifications (the CBP only examines imports for patent infringement based on a Section 337 exclusion order from the U.S. International Trade Commission (more information available here)). In contrast, several other countries monitor and detain imports for possible patent and geographical indication infringement. India’s Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) in particular monitors imports for copyright, geographical indication, patent and trademark infringement.

What are the particular foreign customs agency’s IP notification requirements? Once an IP rights holder verifies that their IP qualifies for legal protections in the foreign country they wish to submit an IP customs notification, and that the type of IP they wish to notify customs about can be registered, the IP rights holder’s customs notification must comply with the foreign customs office’s own notification requirements.

Below are the IP customs notification submission requirements for some of the worlds’ major markets.

Governing Law

Types of IP Covered

Notes

Forms/Links

United States 19 C.F.R. 133.1 et seq.
Copyright and Trademark Instructions: Copyright and trademark notification (known as e-Recordation) requires:

-Registering a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office or a copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office

-The trademark or copyright’s U.S. registration number

-The name, address and citizenship of the IP rights owner

-The place(s) of manufacture of goods bearing the trademark or copyright

-The name and address of individuals authorized to use the trademark or copyright

-The identity of a parent company or subsidiary authorized to use the trademark or copyright (if any)

Fees: US $190.00 per copyright and trademark (per class of goods and services).

Effective Duration of Notification: 20 years.

e-Recordation Notification Portal
Australia
Copyright Act 1968, Subsection 135(2)

Trade Marks Act 1995, Section 132

Copyright and   Trademark General Notes: Australian IP customs notifications are known as Notices of Objection.To register a copyright or trademark notice with Australian Customs Service, an IP rights holder must submit: (1) a notice of objection form; and (2) a deed of undertaking. Both types of forms as well as further instructions are located in the right column.

Duration of Notification: Four years.

Copyright

Copyright Notice Instructions

Copyright Notice Form

Copyright Deed of Undertaking

Trademarks

Trademark Notice Instructions

Trademark Notice Form

Trademark Deed of Undertaking

China Decree of the General Administration of Customs, No. 183 Copyright, Patent and Trademark Requirements: To file a IP customs notification with the General Administration of Customs (GAC), an application must include:

-a copy of the IP rights holder’s business registration certificate and a Chinese translation

-a copy of the Chinese registration certificate for the copyright, patent or trademark

-Proof of Power of Attorney (if registered by an agent)

-Registration fee (see below)

-Licensing agreements (if any)

-Pictures of the relevant goods and their packaging

Submission: Forms can be filled online or by mail.

Fees:Approximately US $130.00 (800 RMB).

GAC Online Notification Form (In Chinese)
European Union Council Regulation (EC) No 1383/2003, Article 5.5 Copyright, Geographical Indication, Patent and Trademark The EU refers to IP customs notifications as Applications For Action. Applications require: (1) a completed application form; and (2) a completed Article 6 Declaration. Both forms are located to the right.

Note: Individual EU member states may maintain their own IP customs notification systems (a link to individual EU member state customs agencies is available here).

Community Application For Action

Community Article 6 Declaration

India  Notification no. 47/2007 – Customs (n.t.) Copyright, Geographical Indication, Patent and Trademark Registration: The CBEC requires that copyrighted works be registered with Indian Copyright Office, and geographical indications, patents and trademarks with the Office of the Controller General of Patents, Designs & Trade Marks prior to submitting a CBEC customs notification.

Ports of Entry: The CBEC also requires that notifications be submitted to particular ports of entry.

Duration of Notification: Minimum period of one (1) year.

Online Notification Submission Portal

**Note**: The above requirements are meant for comparative educational purposes only. IP rights holders should consult with national customs agencies or qualified attorneys in the jurisdictions they wish to enforce their rights to confirm these and other IP customs notification requirements.

Further Steps. Once an IP rights holder’s IP is registered with a foreign customs office, the foreign customs office will generally notify the rights holder or their representative of any infringing inbound shipments and may detain and potentially destroy infringing imports. However, such detentions may include legal proceedings, as well as additional country-specific enforcement procedures. IP rights holders should obtain qualified local counsel to assist with these enforcement activities.

Proposed Reforms Will Expand Enforcement Protections in Thailand For Foreign Copyright Owners

The Thai government recently pursued two IP reforms that will provide qualifying foreign copyright owners enhanced enforcement protections for their works in Thailand. This will happen through strengthened government enforcement efforts, as well as improved Internet enforcement procedures. These efforts could not have come at more crucial time—for both Thailand and foreign copyright owners. The U.S. Trade Representative’s Office (USTR) placed Thailand on its 2012 Priority Watch List of countries with IP enforcement concerns, and the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) has reported that foreign industries lose several hundreds of millions dollars annually in Thailand due to IP infringement, with the latest statistics available showing that the U.S. software industry in particular lost a staggering $427 million in 2010 due to unlicensed sharing.

So what are the specific Thai reforms and which foreign works qualify for enhanced protection?

New Enforcement Office: Last week, the Thai Department of Intellectual Property announced the opening of the Operations Centre for the Suppression of Intellectual Property. It was established to monitor suspected infringer movements, distribution channels, tax payments, cash flows, and money laundering activities. The formation of the Centre will also assist Thai authorities in increasing prosecutions of IP infringers, which the IIPA identified as being a priority action needed to combat IP infringement.

Proposed Legislation: The Thai cabinet finalized the Copyright Act (Draft Act) late last year, a proposed amendment to Thai copyright law that provides several copyright enforcement reforms, particularly by improving Internet enforcement procedures.  According to analysis by Nuttaphol Arammuang, attorney at the law firm Tilleke & Gibbins, the Draft Act provides a copyright owner the ability to petition a Thai Court to compel an online service provider, namely a person hosting or storing data on behalf of a user who infringes the copyright owner’s work, to take down infringing online content. To do so, a copyright owner must submit a petition to a Thai Court. This will be followed by an investigation, and if found sufficient, will compel the Court to order the service provider to temporarily or permanently remove the infringing content.

These judicial takedown provisions will potentially provide foreign copyright owners expanded enforcement rights, yet they may be not as directly efficient or inexpensive as in other countries. The Draft Act’s petition system provides similar means for copyright owners to enforce their rights online against infringers and service providers as found in the U.S. under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and Australia under the 1969 Copyright Regulations. However unlike those laws, the Draft Act appears to not create a notice and takedown system, specifically the ability for copyright owners to directly petition service providers to take down infringing content. Without a notice and takedown system, copyright owners under the Draft Act are less able to quickly remove infringing online content, and instead are required to submit a Court petition prior to obtaining online content removal. The absence of such a system could also potentially burden copyright owners with additional legal costs by requiring them to seek a judicial order rather than submitting a potentially less-expensive extrajudicial take down notice.

Despite these potential concerns, Thailand’s recent entrance into the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations may ultimately result in the Thai government adopting notice and takedown system laws for protected works from other TPP member states. Leaked TPP agreement IP chapter drafts have included requirements for TPP member states to limit liability safe harbor protections for service providers, which may compel Thailand to adopt notice and takedown systems for works from other TPP member states. This may at least provide copyright owners from other TPP member states (Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, U.S., and Vietnam) the ability to utilize notice and takedown enforcement protections in Thailand in the future.

Qualifying Foreign Works: To obtain protections provided by these reforms, as well as all other legal protections currently provided under Thai copyright law, a foreign work must qualify as a protected work under the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. A foreign work obtains protection under the Berne Convention when such a work becomes attached, meaning that the author of the work is a national of a Berne Convention country, a habitual resident in a Berne Convention country, or that the author publishes their work first in Berne Convention country or within a Berne Convention country 30 days after an initial publishing in a non-Berne Convention country. A list of Berne Convention countries is available here.

What do you think of these reforms? What IP enforcement issues are you facing in Thailand?

Special thanks to Jessica Taback for her assistance!

USTR Releases Review of Notorious IP Infringement Markets

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) released an Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets on Thursday, December 13, 2012, which identified physical and online markets reported by U.S. businesses and industry organizations as being engaged in substantial intellectual property piracy and counterfeiting. The Review included particular social media, multi-platform, deeplinking, cyberlocker, business-to-business, business-to-consumer, bit torrent indexing, bit torrent tracking, and pay-per-download websites. Specific physical markets in Argentina, China, Colombia, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Pakistan, Paraguay, Thailand, and Ukraine were also deemed notorious.

Other notable changes in the Review included the removal of Chinese websites Taobao and Sogou as notorious markets, for their efforts to work with rights-holders to identify infringing content on their websites.

A copy of the Review is available here.