By definition, a patent is a temporary government-granted monopoly right on an invention by an inventor or creator. The most well-known type of patent is the utility patent which gives protection to inventions. Design patents protect new, original and ornamental designs of articles of manufacture. Another type is the plant patent, which gives protection to anyone who invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new plant varieties.
In general, Thailand’s patent regime provides enough protection for most innovations or inventions. However, Thailand’s patent office does not have enough resources to keep up with the volume of patent applications received resulting to a significant backlog in the processing of applications.
US companies operating or doing business in Thailand can also apply for patent protection in Thailand. The invention, if made in the United States, should have a US patent first before an application can be made in Thailand. The US company should have a foreign filing license or can file 6 months after patent application filing in the US, whichever comes first. A patent obtained in the US will not hold to protect the patent in Thailand as only a patent issued in Thailand for the same product or invention can give the protection for such US-patented invention in Thailand.
Generally, US firms applying for patent in Thailand should be guided by the following procedures:
As per Thailand’s Patent Act B.E. 2522 (A.D.1979) which was amended in 1999, an invention for Patent and Petty Patent shall be protected under the following conditions:
The entire application process under the Patent Act takes an estimated 4 to 5 years assuming there is no complication or opposition to the application. The normal application process consists of:
Application meeting the requirements will receive notification by post for the payment of issuance fee before the patent certificate will be issued. Invention patents are valid for 20 years from application date while design patents are valid for 10 years from date of application.
To make sure that every file asked by Thai Government is correct and in accordance to the Patent Act, the applicant acquires legal service. Since there is a need to translate every English writing into Thai, a well-versed Phuket lawyer who can speak and understand both Thai and English language can assist the applicant to make sure that everything translated is correct and executory.
Patent is the inventor’s protection against idea theft. Seeking legal advice is important especially if a business is seeking patent in a foreign land that requires translation to its native language. The importance of having a legal advisor who is bilingual or multilingual will help ease the language barrier, make the execution of any contract easier and smoothly file the required documents in due time with less errors.