Washington, D.C. – U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer today announced the conclusion and results of the Special 301 Out-of-Cycle Review (OCR) of Thailand, including moving Thailand from the Priority Watch List to the Watch List.
“A key objective of the Trump Administration’s trade policy is ensuring that U.S. owners of intellectual property (IP) have a full and fair opportunity to use and profit from their IP around the globe,” said Ambassador Lighthizer. “The key to promoting innovation is protecting intellectual property. We welcome the corrective actions that Thailand has taken and look forward to continuing to work with Thailand to resolve our remaining IP concerns.”
The Trump Administration has been closely engaging with Thailand on improving IP protection and enforcement as part of the bilateral U.S.-Thailand Trade and Investment Framework Agreement. This engagement has yielded results on resolving U.S. IP concerns across a range of issues, including on enforcement, patents and pharmaceuticals, trademarks, and copyright.
For example, Thailand established an interagency National Committee on Intellectual Property Policy and a subcommittee on enforcement against intellectual property infringement, led by the Prime Minister and a Deputy Prime Minister, respectively. This strong level of interest from the highest levels of the government led to improved coordination among government entities, as well as enhanced and sustained enforcement efforts to combat counterfeit and pirated goods throughout the country.
Thailand also has been taking steps to address backlogs for patent and trademark applications, including significantly increasing the number of examiners and streamlining regulations. In addition, Thailand joined the Madrid Protocol, making it easier for U.S. companies to apply for trademarks, and took steps to address concerns regarding online piracy affecting the U.S. content industry.
Other results include a commitment from Thailand to improve transparency related to pharmaceutical issues, such as taking stakeholder input into account as it considers amendments to its Drug Act and providing interested stakeholders with regular consultation opportunities with the Thai Food and Drug Administration.
In light of Thailand’s progress, USTR is closing the OCR that was initiated on September 15, 2017, and is moving Thailand from the Special 301 Priority Watch List to the Watch List. The United States will continue to engage bilaterally with Thailand to address other remaining IP concerns, which are highlighted in the 2017 Special 301 Report.
The Special 301 Report is the result of an annual review of the state of intellectual property (IP) protection and enforcement in U.S. trading partners around the world, which the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) conducts pursuant to Section 182 of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended by the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988, the Uruguay Round Agreements Act, and the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 (19 U.S.C. § 2242).
USTR uses Out-of-Cycle Reviews (OCRs) to encourage progress on IP issues. Successful resolution of specific IP issues of concern can lead to a change in a trading partner's Special 301 status outside of the typical period for the annual Special 301 Report. Conversely, failure to address identified IP concerns, or further deterioration as to an IP-related concern within the specified OCR period, can lead to an adverse change in status. USTR may conduct OCRs with trading partners as circumstances warrant.