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Rouse in Profile: Thitiya Lueabrassamee

Published on 31 May 2024 | 4 minute read
The lure of a much loved fruit orchard helps keep a family tradition alive

Thitiya is Deputy Head of the Thailand Patent Group, based in our Bangkok office. She handles a wide range of patent work with a primary focus on IP management, patent search & analysis, patent drafting and patent prosecution. She also works closely with major local clients, providing strategic advice to help them leverage the value of their IP assets.

The orchard is rich with coconut, banana, lychee and cacao trees – also pomelo, which is the largest of the citrus fruits and native to Southeast Asia.  Thitiya’s grandparents established the orchard in the rich river flat area of Samut Songkhram, about 70 km southeast of Bangkok at the mouth of the Mae Klong river and that is where it still is today.   It has been an essential part of Thitiya’s life for as long as she can remember and it remains very close to her heart.  Even though she and her younger brother, Borworn, are now practicing other professions, they have managed to find a way of keeping the orchard, and with it a family tradition, alive.

AumAlthough Thitiya spent all her spare time as a child helping with the work of the orchard, her academic bent was, from the outset, scientific – perhaps something inherited from her father who studied Engineering and later worked as an official in a public electrical company. She loved the orchard, and the lifestyle of work on the orchard, but both she and her brother learned early on that they would be able to pursue another profession and still maintain it.  They both did well at school:  Thitiya went on to study Chemical Engineering; and Borworn, Mechanical Engineering 

Thitiya’s decision to study Chemical Engineering was a practical one – she liked the subjects, and she wanted to study something that would enable her to get a good job when she graduated.  While still a student, she realised that she did not want to work as a Chemical Engineer in a plant or refinery – that was partly because the life did not appeal to her, but partly, and even more importantly, because most plants are situated far from Bangkok, it would be difficult for her to visit the family, and the orchard, at weekends.   So she sent her resumé to a recruiter and he matched her with an IP firm.

At the time, Thitiya had never heard of IP and wasn’t at all sure that a scientific background would be appropriate.  Still, she went along for an interview and the Japanese owner of the firm explained what was involved in Intellectual Property – and also that for patent practice, having a technical background would be invaluable.  It sounded interesting and she decided to give it a go.  It turned out to be a good decision and Thitiya remained with the firm for 10 years, undertaking many courses while there and qualifying as a Patent Agent.

At that point, she was head-hunted for a job in the IP team of a major public petrochemical company.  The work sounded interesting and it seemed time for a new challenge. so she decided to make the move.  It turned out to be another good decision.  She enjoyed the international nature of the work, working closely with the R&D department, and being involved in the IP process from creation, protection and enforcement to management.  After about five years, however, she was beginning to feel frustrated with aspects of the corporate world and she began to think that working for a specialist IP law firm would be preferable. 

In her corporate role she had been instructing various law firms, including Rouse, and because she particularly liked the way Rouse worked, she decided to start by approaching Rouse’s Bangkok office.  The interview obviously went well:  that was about seven years ago. Initially, she was doing mostly technical work, searching and drafting; more recently, she has been supervising prosecution work as well.  She likes the fact that she has been able to expand her skills at Rouse and enjoys working on global issues with Rouse colleagues in other offices.

Almost every weekend, however, she is back in Samut Songkhram, spending time with her family and helping on the orchard.  Several years ago, Thitiya’s father died and since then her mother has been primarily responsible for maintaining the orchard.  In 2014, however, her brother left his position as a Production Engineer at Nikon, started his own online marketing business, and returned to live in Samut Songkhram.  Now, as well as running his own business he is able to help his mother take care of the orchard.

Thitiya and her brother have found ways of using technology to reduce the amount of work that needs to be done and the amount of labour needed.  For example, he has been using a drone to inspect the trees and see when they are ready to be pruned, or if they are otherwise in need of attention.  This saves a lot of time walking the entire orchard.  They have also installed a watering device that has significantly reduced the amount of physical labour needed.  Whereas previously quite a large work force was required, now they can do it themselves.

So the family’s gardening tradition, which in fact started even before the orchard was established, is in safe hands.  Many articles have been written, and much advice given, about the difficulties of keeping a family business vital and alive.  For this particular family, key ingredients have been a genuine love for the orchard, hard work, education, and a willingness to adopt new technology and new ways of doing things.  And there is another ingredient, perhaps more important than all the rest:  very close family ties. Thitiya is one of those lucky people whose retirement is pretty much mapped out for them – and who is able to enjoy the best of two very different worlds in the meantime.

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Rouse Editor
+44 20 7536 4100
Rouse Editor
+44 20 7536 4100