If you are planning to start a company in Thailand, and you have a system or process designed already for this enterprise, then it should be to your interest to find out how you can patent that system so that no one else will replicate it in their own business and use your own brainchild against you.
Patents are legal devices that are intended to protect individual designs, inventions, and processes particularly used in manufacturing companies, with the intention of preventing third parties from using those creations without the original creator’s consent.
As a patent holder, you are legally authorized to enforce the use of your patented creation. If any competitor attempts to infringe on your design by blatantly copying it and integrating it into their own system, then you have the right to prosecute these violators and be duly compensated for the damages and lost income that the infringement has subjected you or your business to.
You also have the ability to grant licenses to interested parties for a fee that you and that third party will have to negotiate. You will commonly gain a percentage of the income that they earn through the use of your patented creation, although the actual terms of your license agreement will depend on what you have agreed upon through negotiations.
As a member of the ASEAN Intellectual Property Association, Thailand allows nationals of member nations to this organization to file for patent protection in the Kingdom. This means that foreigners can apply for patent protection in Thailand provided that they have businesses with principal offices in the country.
As a foreigner, you will also have to secure the services of a Patent Agent in Thailand. Obviously, this agent must operate within Thailand only and has the documentation to prove that he or she is registered with Thailand’s Patent Office. If you already have a business in Thailand, then no doubt you have entered into a business relationship with a bonafide patent agent so this should not be a worry.
Patent protection is within the jurisdiction of the Thailand Department of Intellectual Property, which falls under the Ministry of Commerce. Interested parties can fill up an application form and mail it by registered mail to the Bangkok office of the Department, or to any provincial offices that is recognized by the Department’s Director-General.
Aside from the application form, interested parties are required to include explanatory documents about the patent, like a clear document describing the invention, the claims that it is seeking protection for, an abstract or a set of drawings, if it is necessary for further describing the creation and makes it technology understandable for everyone in the public domain once the patent is approved and issued.
Patent registration is by itself a complicated topic. Our next article should cover the principles of “absolute novelty” and “first to file” on which Thailand’s IP laws operate.