Intellectual Property Protection in ASEAN

1. Overview:

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a high priority for U.S. intellectual property rights holders and a major destination for technical assistance, training and capacity-building activities by the U.S. Government, particularly on IPR enforcement and cooperation.

The ten member states of ASEAN are: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam. ASEAN will transform into the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) on December 31, 2015, and as a region, it is one of the fastest growing markets in the world.

Currently, the U.S. has a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Singapore, Bilateral Trade Agreements (BTAs) with Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, Trade and Investment Framework Agreements (TIFAs) with ASEAN, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, and Vietnam; and Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam are parties to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) which is nearing conclusion of its negotiations.

While all ASEAN countries are members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and are required to comply with the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), which sets minimum standards of IPR protection and enforcement standards, the IPR infrastructure and expertise on IPR protection varies significantly among ASEAN members: from sophisticated legal frameworks, such as Singapore, to rudimentary and/or archaic legal frameworks, as in Myanmar at present.

In recent years, ASEAN member states have generally adopted policies and attitudes which reflect a recognition that stronger and more enhanced protection and enforcement of IPR will positively affect their economic growth. However, trade in counterfeit goods continues to be widespread in much of the region, and there has been a dramatic increase in online content piracy.

2. What is intellectual property?

Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) states that "intellectual property shall include rights relating to:

  • literary, artistic and scientific works
  • performances of performing artists, phonograms and broadcasts,
  • inventions in all fields of human endeavor
  • scientific discoveries
  • industrial designs
  • trademarks, service marks and commercial names and designation
  • protection against unfair competition and all other rights resulting from intellectual activity in the industrial, scientific, literary or artistic fields."

Intellectual property is generally divided into two broad categories: industrial property and copyright-related rights.

Industrial property includes patents, trademarks, industrial designs, and geographical indications, while copyright and related rights covers creative works such as literature, film, musical works, computer software, artistic works, broadcasting, and sound recordings.

Almost all developed countries in the world have a system of intellectual property protection and enforcement. Such systems encourage innovation and creativity, which in turn leads to economic prosperity for the nations.

3. What is the difference between a copyright, trademark, and patent?

Copyright:

A copyright is a form of protection for the creators of "original works of authorship" including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and other intellectual works, both published and unpublished. A copyright protects the form of expression rather than the subject matter of the work.

Trademark:

Trademarks are used to indicate the source of goods and services, and can protect words, names, symbols, sounds, or colors that distinguish goods and services from those sold by others. Trademarks can be renewed forever as long as they are being actively used in commerce.

Trademarks are territorial; unlike the United States, most countries require registration of trademark rights.

Patent:

A patent is a government grant of a property right that permits an inventor to exclude others from making, using, selling, offering for sale, or importing his invention. In return, the inventor must fully disclose the invention in the patent application process.

Patents are territorial in that patent protection must be applied for in each country where protection is sought.

What basic steps can I take to protect my intellectual property?

First and foremost, it is important to register all IP with the Department of Intellectual Property so that it can be protected.

Make sure you know what rights are granted to you under the law, and what steps you can take if someone infringes on those rights. If you become aware of any infringements on your IP, quick legal action has proven to be the most effective way to keep it protected.

ASEAN IPR resources:

  • ASEAN IP Portal, Launched in 2013, this website in officially supported by ASEAN members for providing comprising information on ASEAN IP systems, comparative IP-related data, and web links to ASEAN IP Offices and stakeholders of ASEAN: http://www.aseanip.org/
  • For assistance and detailed information on IPR protection provided by U.S. Government, please visit www.stopfakes.gov. You may also get a commercial guide in a specific country as well as brief information on the country’s IPR protection at the link: http://www.stopfakes.gov/business-tools/country-commercial-guides
  • The "Special 301" Report is an annual review by the U.S. Trade Representative of the global state of intellectual property rights (IPR) protection and enforcement.
  • The U.S. Commerce Department has positioned IP attachés in key markets around the world. The IP Attaché responsible for Southeast Asia is:

IP Specialists

Name: Kitisri Sukhapinda, Ph.D., JD., Regional IP Attaché
Phone: 662-205-5913
Email: Kitisri.Sukhapinda@trade.gov

Name: Teerin Charoenpot, Senior IP Specialist
Phone: 662-205-5886
Email: tcharoen@trade.gov
Industries: Trademark, Copyright, Patent, Plant Variety Protection, Trade Secret, Geographical Indication and Etc.

Name: Cheepchanok Chernkwanma, IP Specialist
Phone: 662-205-5199
Email: cchernkw@trade.gov
Industries: Trademark, Copyright, Patent, Plant Variety Protection, Trade Secret, Geographical Indication and Etc.

Mailing Address
U.S. Embassy Bangkok
Foreign Commercial Service
Room 302, GPF Witthayu Tower A,
93/1 Wireless Road,
Bangkok, 10330 Thailand

Office Location
U.S. Embassy Bangkok
Foreign Commercial Service
Room 302, GPF Witthayu Tower A,
93/1 Wireless Road,
Bangkok, 10330 Thailand
Office Phone: +66 2-205-5886 (Teerin Charoenpot)
Office Phone: +66 2-205-5199 (Cheepchanok Chernkwanma)


U.S. Patent and Trademark office

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