The Trademark Act of Thailand governs registration of and provides protection for trademarks. The Act defines a trademark as a symbol used in connection with goods for the purpose of indicating that they are the goods of the owner of the trademark. The trademark must be "distinctive": not identical or similar to those registered by others.

Registration Procedure

A trademark application must be completed by the proprietor or his agent in the Thai language and filed on the official forms with the Trademark Office. Trademarks are only registrable if the proprietor or his representative has a place of business in Thailand which the Trademark Office can contact.

If the Trademark Office deems that the trademark is registrable, the Office will request the submission of a printing block bearing the trademark. Once the Trademark Office receives the printing block, the trademark will be published in the official trademark journal.

Provided that no opposition to the trademark arises within 90 days of this publication in the official journal, the Trademark Registrar will grant a trademark registration.

Trademark Registration Period

Trademark registration is effective for a period of ten years. Owners of trademarks must file an application for renewal 90 days prior to the expiration of their current trademark registration.

A trademark may be registered even if it is not being actively used. However, failure to employ the trademark entitles third parties to challenge the rights of the trademark owner.

Penal Provision for Trademark Infringement

The owner of a registered trademark has the exclusive right to use the trademark, and may initiate legal action against violators. It is a criminal offence to represent as registered a trademark which is not legally registered, or to sell, possess for sale, or bring into the Kingdom objects under such a pretence, and this is punishable by imprisonment of up to 1 year or a fine of up to Baht 20,000, or both. Presenting false evidence while registering a trademark is liable to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 6 months or a fine not exceeding Baht 10,000, or both.

Anyone who forges another person's trademark registered in the Kingdom or who sells, possess for sale, or bring into the Kingdom objects with a forged trademark shall be punishable by imprisonment not exceeding 4 years or a fine not exceeding Baht 400,000, or both. Anyone who imitates another person's registered trademark in order to mislead the public into believing the imitation mark is that of the registered proprietor, or who sells, possesses for sale, or bring into the Kingdom objects with an imitated trademark, will be punishable by imprisonment not exceeding 2 years or a fine not exceeding Baht 200,000, or both. Whoever repeats these offences within a 5 year period is liable to double punishment.

The Board of Trademarks

In 1991, a Board of Trademarks was established to decide on appeals to the decisions made under the Trademark Act. The Board may also order the cancellation of the trademark registrations according to the Act.

Service Marks, Certification Marks and Collective Marks

As of 1991, these variations on trademarks are covered under all the provisions of the Act and, hence, receive the same protection as trademarks under the law. In the case of service marks, all the word "goods" mentioned in the Act's provisions, shall mean "services".

Certification Marks. Applicants for certification marks must forward a copy of the regulations concerning the use of the certification mark together with the application for registration and demonstrate that they are well qualified to certify to merits of the goods or services. The license of a registered certification mark shall not be used for his own goods or services and shall not license any third person to grant certifications to use the mark, although they may license a third person to use the certification mark themselves. If they violate this rule, they are subject to a fine not exceeding Baht 20,000.

The regulations concerning the use of the certification mark must:

1. Specify the origin, composition, manufacturing process, quality and other characteristic of the goods and services to be certified; and

2. include the rules, procedures and conditions imposed on the granting of a license to use the certification mark.

NOTE: The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

If you would like further advice please contact: David Ellis, Johnson Stokes & Master, 16th Floor, Princes Building, 10 Chater Road, Hong Kong; Tel 2843 4226; Fax no. : 2845 9121. Alternatively do a text search "Johnson Stokes and Master" and "Business Monitor".