Thailand’s Department of Intellectual Property (DIP) has been in the process of revising the Thai Patent Act B.E. 2522 which was last amended in 1999. This time, the revisions aim to improve especially application procedures. A key issue is allowing parties other than patent holders to export patented pharmaceutical products to other developing countries to address public health problems under the Protocol Amending the TRIPS Agreement. The DIP also seeks for Thailand to become a checkpoint for access and benefit sharing of Genetic Resources (GRs) and Traditional Knowledge (TK) in patent applications.
Important points of the revision include:
- Expansion of prior art definition to include prior art “widely known or used…outside Thailand before the application date”;
- revision of provisions for permitted prior disclosures of subject matter or details of the invention made by inventors, applicants or authorized persons for a period up to 12 months before the application date;
- new provisions relating to voluntary filing of divisional applications initiated by the applicants without having to wait until receiving examiner’s order as set forth by the current Patent Act, to speed up examination;
- new provisions providing 2 periods of publication of patent applications;
- a provision mandating publication by 18 months from the filing date in Thailand (at present publication time can be up to 5 years);
- revision of the existing provision limiting timeline for requesting a substantive examination to 3 years from the filing date in Thailand;
- new pre-grant opposition procedure within 90 days from the 2nd publication of the patent application;
- revision of the provision for conversion of applications from patent to petty patent to 3 years from the filing date in Thailand, and the conversion from petty patent to patent to 3 years from the filing date in Thailand or before the issuance of the petty patent;
Thailand sometimes receives criticism for slow grant so speeding up the application process wherever possible will be welcome.