Lessons to be learned from WIPO’s initiative with Thailand Handicraft (Commentary)

Preserving Traditional Industries & Braving Them For The Modern Market

WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) has recently aspired an outreach initiative in increasing Intellectual Property awareness, targeted at the rural communities of Thailand, with respect to their respective handicraft / handmade industries of which undoubtedly plays an indispensable role amongst these communities. Necessarily, incline in IP awareness is of great importance and there is an array of invaluable lessons that may be taken away from this movement.

In a collaborative effort with King Mongkut University of Technology Thonburi, WIPO has intervened and expounded on fundamental aspects of IP to propel some of Thailand’s various artisanal industries.

  • Bang Chao Cha’s Wicker Ware
  • Mae Chaem’s Textiles, known as ตีนจก, ‘teenchok’, distinctive woven textiles.
  • Lampoon’s Silk, known as ยกดอก, ‘yokdok’ lavish, exquisite brocade silk.

As these industries contribute rather substantially to the livelihood of these communities, it is of much significance to increase the commercial viability of these respective speciality products, accordingly preserving its essence & origin and supporting it viz-a-viz unwanted commercialization by third parties.

Effective Branding

The modus operandi of the initiative was as follows:

1. Determination of the various qualities, and marketability of the various products. Ascertaining the most suitable form of IP that ought be obtained.

2. Gauging the various training needs of the respective entities.

3. Contemplating the scope of protection required and the scope of protection affordable by the various IP vehicles and expert management of the spectrum of applications.

Industrial designs confer protection over the aesthetic aspects of the handicrafts, and this is undeniably a crucial form of protection with regards to many types of handicraft.

Copyrights preserve the rights of the original creator over artistic works. While this may not be applicable in certain instances of handicraft, it is imperative for proprietors to be aware that they indeed have such rights over their artistic creations.

Trademarks distinguish the products of the proprietor’s from that of others. This is of great importance as it gives the former a commercial identity of its own. Particularly, Collective Marks would be of appropriate application here, whereby registration would grant exclusive use to members of the respective organizations.

Of especial importance, Geographical Indications (“GI”) – high value, quality control, niche exclusiveness. Geographical Indications go miles toward providing a product with a degree of cultural identity and toward ensuring inheritance of heritage.

GIs are registrable and protected vide Thailand’s Act on Protection of Geographical Indication B.E. 2546 (A.D. 2003). GIs allow proprietors to indicate the geographical origin of their product in branding and is of much significance when it comes to local specialist industries such as those concerned in the outreach. A specific requirement for the registration of GIs (as distinct from those required for Trademarks) is ‘traceability’ and the proprietor’s capacity to guarantee quality.

Examples of registered GIs are Pamelo from Nahornchaisri, Salted Egg from Chaiya, Grilled Pork from Trang, Praewa Thai Silk from Kalasinth, Earthernware from Koh Kred and Jasmine Rice from Surin.

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For more information on the foregoing, please contact the author JOEL LOO SEAN EE, the Bangkok-based Senior Regional Counsel at Kelvin Chia Thailand and a member of Kelvin Chia Partnership’s Regional Practice Group at Joel.Loo@KCPartnership.com.

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This article is published to provide general information only and is not offered as specific advice on any particular matter – This information is to be taken subject to proper consultation with a lawyer.

All written material on BANGKOK LEGAL BLOG (BLB) including this post are the Copyright of Joel Loo Sean Ee. Any attempt to plagiarize or reproduce these materials in whole or in part, in verbatim or in paraphrase, or in any other form that it can be conceivable that such attempt is being made is an offense in law and will be an invitation by offenders to face charges and prosecution in a Court of Law.

 

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