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Patent Protection in Thailand

Ananda Intellectual Property assist clients in Thailand and worldwide with the filing and prosecution of their patents for invention (national and PCT applications), petty patents and design patents.

Below are answers to frequently asked questions relating to protection of patents for invention and petty patents in Thailand. The timeline for patent protection in Thailand can be accessed here for invention patents and here for petty patents. An English translation of the Thai Patent Act is also available here.

Why protecting patents?

Foreign investors doing business in developing countries such as Thailand most often bring in new proprietary technologies they wish to protect in order to:

  • maintain their competitive advantage and;
  • obtain a return on their investment, in particular their research and development investments.

Patent rights serve these purposes by protecting an innovation for a limited time in exchange of its disclosure. The word “patent” originates from the Latin patere, which means "to lay open" (i.e., to make available for public inspection). Therefore a patent consists of a set of exclusive rights granted by a state to an inventor/assignee for a limited period of time, in exchange for the public disclosure of the invention.

Typically, a patent application must include a description of the invention and one or more claims that define the invention. These claims must meet relevant patentability requirements, such as novelty and non-obviousness in case of patents for invention.

Quick tips on protecting patents in Thailand

QUICK TIPS
BENEFITS OF A GRANTED PATENT TIPS FOR PATENT OWNERS/APPLICANTS
  • Exclusive rights for the patentee to prevent others from making, using, selling, or distributing the patented invention or design without permission.
  • Enforceability of granted patent.
  • Increases business value.
  • Identify patentable subject matter and evaluate need for patent protection.
  • Maintain secrecy including through confidentiality agreements in case disclosure is necessary before filing the patent application.
  • Remember that as Thailand operates an “absolute novelty” and “first to file” patent system, your new invention should be kept as confidential as possible until a patent application date has been obtained.
  • Check patent databases for prior art and monitor your competitors’ activity.
  • Check patentability of your invention with a local patent agent/attorney.
  • Provide Thai patent Examiner with copies of overseas search reports or grant of corresponding patent application in order to speed up registration in Thailand.

What are the different patent types available in Thailand?

The Thai Patent Act provides protection for three types of patents. 

The first step is therefore to identify which type(s) of patent may be available to protect the invention.

The three patent types available in Thailand are as follows:

Patent type Example of invention protected Protection period
Patent for Invention New product or process, improvement for example in the following fields: machinery, tools, chemicals, biotechnology, etc. 20 years (non-renewable)
Petty Patent New invention which would qualify for an invention patent except that it has no strong, technical innovative step. 10 years (non-renewable)
Design Patent Ornamental aspects or aesthetics of an article including features pertaining to the shape, configuration or pattern. 10 years (non-renewable)

What are the requirements for a patent to be accepted for registration?

Because a patent provides the patentee with a monopoly to manufacture, sell and use the invention, the requirements to obtain patent protection are quite high especially for patents for inventions.

Invention Patents Design and Petty Patents
  1. the invention must be new
  2. the invention must be capable of industrial application
  3. the invention must be non-obvious (i.e. must be an innovative step)
  1. the invention must be new
  2. the invention must be capable of industrial application

The second step is therefore to identify whether the invention can be protected, namely:

  • Is the invention new?
  • Is the invention capable of industrial application?
  • Does the invention involve an innovative step (for invention patents)?

What does “novelty” mean?

The novelty requirement is the first essential requirement for a patent to be granted in Thailand. Thai law specifies that an invention is not new if it forms part of the state of the art. The state of art includes any of the following inventions:

  • an invention which was widely known or used by others in the country before the date of application for the patent;
  • an invention the subject matter of which was described in a document or printed publication disclosed to the public in Thailand or in a foreign country before the date of application for the patent (for example in a scientific magazine or thesis);
  • an invention for which a patent was granted in Thailand or overseas;
  • an invention for which a patent was applied in a foreign country more than eighteen months before the date of application for the patent;
  • an invention for which a patent was applied in this or a foreign country and the application was published before the date of the application.

It should be noted that in evaluating whether an invention is new, the Patent Examiner will not only consider inventions already granted protection in Thailand but will perform a novelty check in international patent databases and check patents granted overseas. More and more frequently the Examiner will also conduct searches in non-patent literature (publications, studies and information available online).

Patent applicants shall therefore be aware that patent applications shall be filed before disclosure of the invention and that the first party to file a patent application has exclusive rights to the invention.

What does “Industrial application” mean?

The requirement of industrial application is usually easy to meet as Thai Patent Examiners have a broad interpretation in this regard. Any invention is deemed capable of industrial application if it can be made or used in any kind of industry, including handicrafts, agriculture and commerce. However inventions with a merely academic or theoretical application would not qualify under this requirement.

What does “Inventive step” mean?

One of the most difficult and subjective tasks is to assess the inventive step of an invention. Thai law simply states that an invention shall be taken to involve an inventive step if “it is not obvious to a person ordinary skilled in the art”. 

The Manual of Patent and Petty Patent Applications Examination further specifies that an invention must provide an advantage or improvement resulting from at least one of the following:

  1. effect of design/form;
  2. task;
  3. selection;
  4. requirement of a problem and solution;
  5. effort;
  6. non-simplification;
  7. concentration of developmental steps;
  8. economic success;
  9. scientific technical research;
  10. progressive;
  11. achievements by the invention;
  12. non-exchangeable compounds;
  13. surprising results.

This Manual further indicates that Thai Patent Examiners shall consult search report(s) issued in corresponding applications. As in most cases invention patents filed in Thailand have been filed in other countries (for example, USA, Europe, Japan, China) it is very frequent for Thai Patent Examiners to rely on foreign search reports and/or grant of corresponding patent applications overseas during the examination of a Thai patent application.

What are the non-patentable inventions in Thailand?

It shall be noted that the following inventions are not eligible for patent protection in Thailand:

  • Microorganisms which would be found in nature or any substances extracted from animals or plants;
  • Scientific or mathematical rules and theories;
  • Computer programs (which are protected under copyright);
  • Processes of diagnosis, treatment, or remedy used in curing human or animal diseases;
  • Inventions which are contrary to public order or morality, public health, or welfare.

What is the patent registration process for patents for invention?

There are different processes for obtaining registration of patents for invention, petty patents and design patents. As this information is widely available on the Internet and the website of Department of Intellectual Property we will only provide a short overview.

Patents for invention

Patents for invention can be filed in Thailand through two systems:

  • a national application (first filing in Thailand or within 12 months of a priority application filed in another country); or
  • an application under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (“PCT”) system which makes it possible:
    1. to seek patent protection for an invention in Thailand and simultaneously in each of a large number of PCT Contracting States by filing an “international patent application" before the Thai Department of Intellectual Property or before the International Bureau of the World intellectual Property Organization.; or
    2. to seek patent protection in Thailand for an invention already filed under an international patent application filed in another PCT Contracting State or before the International Bureau of the World intellectual Property Organization (the so called “National Phase”).

Whether the patent application is filed under the national or international system, the application is first required to include a detailed description of the invention to enable persons skilled in the art to understand and create such an invention. Such a description shall also include a description of the best mode to perform the invention, something that is not always required in other countries.

The application shall then contain an abstract, a title, drawings to support the description (if applicable) and claims.

The claims must be clear and concise so as to clearly identify the exclusive rights of the patentee over the invention.

Note that all of this information must be submitted in Thai language before the Department of Intellectual Property, therefore quality of translation in Thai of the overseas corresponding application (if any) is crucial. We hereby provide a simplified overview of the national patent registration procedure for patents for inventions in Thailand.

Patents for invention registration procedure (national application - simplified)
Patents for invention registration procedure (national application - simplified)

The duration of examination for invention patent applications is one of the biggest obstacles for patent applicants in Thailand. It is frequent for applications for patent for invention especially for those applications with no corresponding foreign application to be examined in a timeframe of about 10 years. This delay is due to the backlog of patent applications currently waiting for examination in Thailand. The patent pendency is one area of major concern in Thailand and although it shall not discourage patentees to file applications in Thailand it must be taken into account in view of enforcement considerations. Indeed only granted patent applications can be enforced.

What is the patent registration process for petty patents?

Petty Patents

Petty Patents (also called utility models in other countries) offer a good alternative to patents for invention. They provide shorter protection period for inventions which are new, capable of industrial application but which do not possess a strong inventive character.

Petty patents are popular in Thailand especially among Thai companies and/or for companies which do not require a protection exceeding 10 years.

Petty patents are usually granted within one year and a half from date of filing as patent examiners only perform a formality check. A request for a substantive examination is not required.

We hereby provide a simplified overview of the national patent registration procedure for petty patents in Thailand.

Petty patents registration procedure (simplified)
Petty patents registration procedure (simplified)

What is the patent registration process for design patents?

Design patents are very popular in Thailand both among foreign and Thai applicants. The purpose of a design patent is to protect the ornamental aspects or aesthetics of an article including features pertaining to the shape, configuration or pattern.

In accordance with Thai Law, one design application must only contain one design. Therefore, if you wish to file more than one embodiment of the design, it is imperative to file a separate design application for each embodiment.

It is important to submit several views of the design to be protected such as: front view, back view, right view, left view, bottom view, top view and perspective view.

These views can be either drawings or pictures of the product.

The design of Crocs ® shoes applied to mobile phone case and The actual product
The design of Crocs ® shoes applied to mobile phone case and The actual product

We hereby provide a simplified overview of the national patent registration procedure for design patents in Thailand.

Design patents registration procedure (simplified)
Design patents registration procedure (simplified)