Thailand caught between a rock and a hard place

In its latest efforts to promote the importance of intellectual property rights (IPR), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) recently awarded the King of Thailand HM Bhumibol Adulyadej, an avid artist and an inventor with over 20 patents and 19 trademarks – its new “WIPO Global Leaders Award”. This award is intended to recognize world leaders who promote IPR in their sphere of influence at national and international levels.

Ironically, Thailand, a country of 60 million people with a per capita income of $8,300 USD, has been marked as a serious offender of IPR because of piracy and copyright infringement. Piracy accounts for a high percentage of the Thai market for movies, music (approx. 50%), software (approx. 80%), and books, most of which are produced in developed countries. The country has been targeted by IIPA’s Priority Watch List for 2007 (see my post on IIPA’s Special 301 report).

The Global Leaders Award may now increase pressure on Thailand to comply with WIPO rules, starting right from the top with the King.