IP Rights Vital to Creative Economy

Losses of 14 billion baht in four industries


Better protection of intellectual property rights and improved human resources are essential to the development of Thailand’s creative industries, say researchers.

Thailand’s model is to develop the creative economy and intellectual property rights (IPR) at the same time, said Deputy Commerce Minister Alongkorn Ponlaboot, also chairman of the Creative Thailand subcommittee.

Reseach suggests that failure to stop IPR infringements in just four creative industries has caused losses of 13.95 billion baht, as well as 22.8 billion baht in indirect impacts on other industries.

Nine creative industries already generate about 10% of Thai gross domestic product and they could grow quickly, with better protection of intellectual property rights, concludes a study released yesterday by the Fiscal Policy Research Institute (FPRI) and the Kenan Institute Asia.

The nine industries identified by the study are: printing and publishing, information technology (IT), wooden furniture, medicines, jewellery, research, film, radio and television.

Effective protection could generate an extra 6.6 billion baht in revenue for the pharmaceutical industry, 3.7 billion for the movie sector, 1.8 billion for the IT sector and 1.7 billion for the music industry, according to the study.

IPR protection could also have a massive impact in the short term, said the study’s creators.

“It’s not easy, but if Thailand can be first removed from the priority watch list that would be very helpful. It would attract more businesses to come to Thailand because they feel their high-level creative rights would be better protected,” said Paul Wedel, the president of the Kenan Institute Asia.

Mr Alongkorn said he would travel to the United States next week in an attempt to discuss negotiations over Thailand’s removal from the United States’ priority watch list of IP violators.

The government aims for Thailand to become Asean’s creative industrial centre and to increase the share of gross domestic product (GDP) provided by creativity from 12% now to 20% by the end of 2012.

The study found that in 2008, the industry contributed 1.07 trillion baht in sales and over 325.27 billion in value added, making up 9.53% of total GDP.

From this year, the creative economy will be included in classes in high school, with a focus on IPR, said Mr Alongkorn.

Pilot testing will be introduced in February at a few schools, added Mr Wedel.

“In the long run, the most important aspect is to develop people. People are the heart of all creative industries and of the creative economy, so you must have an education system that not only allows but encourages creativity,” said Mr Wedel.

But Mr Alongkorn said that 500,000 teachers needed to be retrained to teach about the creative economy and intellectual property rights.A National Creative Economy Agency would be set up by February, he said. The project will receive funding of 20 billion baht over the next three years.

A creative academy committee will also be established. Twelve academies have already been set up but more than 20 are planned, offering specialisations in areas such as fashion, small and medium-sized enterprises, food, and tourism.

Next week the cabinet will make a final decision on which creative projects will be funded by a 1-billion-baht state budget, he added. At least 10 projects should be approved, such as creative education.

“Also one of our commitments is for the Board of Investment to give incentives to creative economy businesses, such as animation and digital content, which will receive tax exemptions similar to other industries,” he said.

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