Patent Rights in Thailand are governed by the Thai Patent Act enacted to ensure the protection of rights of patentees with regard to their inventions. This Act also aims to promote development of technology in Thailand as well as activities which involve invention of new products or processes.
Patent is defined by Thai Patent Act as a document which is issued to a patent owner granting protection for his invention or design. An invention creates a new product or process which includes improvement of a known product. Design, on the other hand, is defined by the Patent Act as any form or composition of lines or colors which gives a special appearance to a product. Thus, the patent grants the inventor as a patentee the rights to produce, use, have in possession for sale, import in cases the subject matter of the patent is a product and in case where the subject matter is a process. It also gives the patentee the rights to use the patented process, which includes the rights to produce, use, sell, have in possession for sale or import products produced by the patented process. A patent owner includes the transferee of a patent in accordance to patent laws of Thailand.
In order for an invention to be protected by a patent, the Patent Act requires that it must be new, involves an inventive step and is capable of industrial application. Also, to get patent, the applicant must possess the following qualifications stated under the Patent Act:
He must be a Thai National or a juridical person such as company which headquarter is located in Thailand;
He must be a national of a country which is party to a Convention or an international agreement on patent protection to which Thailand is a signatory or party;
He must be a national of a country which allows Thai nationals or Thai juridical persons having headquarters therein to apply for patent;
He must be domiciled in Thailand or have real and effective industrial or commercial establishment in Thailand or any country which is a party to a Convention or Agreement on patent protection to which Thailand is a signatory or a party.
In cases where the invention was created through joint work, the application shall be made by them jointly. If two or more persons have separately and independently made the same invention and they both apply for a patent, under the Patent Act, the principle of “Principle of First to File Rule” applies. Hence, the first applicant to file the application shall be entitled to receive the patent. Nevertheless, if the applicants applied on the same date, the Patent Act directs them to agree whether or not the patent shall be given to any one of them or all of them jointly within a period prescribed by the Director General. If no agreement is reached, the applicants are given the right to bring the dispute in Thai courts within 90 days after the expiration of the prescribed period to reach an agreement. If no action is taken within the same period, the parties are presumed to have abandoned their respective applications. And any person who has filed a patent application in a foreign country may claim first foreign filing provided that filing the same in Thailand is made within 12 months from the date of the first filing in the foreign country.
The duration of the patent is fixed into 20 years and there can only be infringement of the patent when the pending application for the patent is already published or the person called the infringer acted in bad faith knowing that there is a pending application for the patent or that he has been notified of the same application. In such a case, the patentee may bring an action for damages against the infringer in Thai Courts after the approval of the patent application.