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Thailand clamps down on illegal refilling

April 17, 2015

ThailandAn amendment to the country’s Trademark Act would make it “an offence to refill packaging or containers bearing registered trademarks”.

Bangkok Post reported on the issues posed by counterfeiters in Thailand, who “often refill genuine packaging and containers with unauthorised products, thus passing off the goods as genuine commodities”. Noting that the “problem is widespread”, the news outlet adds that the goods “don’t pass through regulatory standards or quality control, and so they can have harmful effects on consumers”.

Printer cartridges are placed in the “commodities” category, with the post stating that refilled counterfeit toner cartridges “pose a significant danger to consumers” due to the materials “that constitute unauthorised toner powder” being “unknown to consumers”. The counterfeit toner thus “may contain harmful chemicals that can accumulate in the body”, with the site giving the example that “office staff who work in proximity to a printer” using such cartridges “may breathe in harmful fumes from the printer on a daily basis”.

The country’s Section 272(1) of the Penal Code “allows for legal action to be taken against an offender who commits an act of refilling that uses names, pictures, marks or any terms used in other people’s business without the proper authorisation”. At the moment, this ensures a maximum punishment of one year in jail and or a fine of around 2,000 baht ($61/€56), but the offence is compoundable, which means that the legal action “can be settled between the parties”.

Some in Thailand believe that counterfeit refilling should be considered “a form of trademark infringement”, as the punishments “are more severe”. If such refilling was considered trademark infringement, the maximum punishment would be four years in jail and or a fine of 400,000 baht ($12,347/€11,396). In 2012 a proposal was made to amend the Trademark Act to include illegal refilling.

Bangkok Post explained that this is “pending review” by the Counsel of State, and if it is approved would “serve as a greater deterrent” as well as “provide more protection to consumers”. The new law would also mean such an offence would become “non-compoundable”, so offenders “would not be able to settle a case” with the IP owner and would be subjected to the “full prosecution process”.

The outlet claimed that the “dangers” of such refilling are “no different from those of other forms of trademark infringement”, and are “arguably more pronounced, as genuine packaging and containers that have been refilled with substandard products are more difficult to differentiate from authentic products, creating even more confusion.

“The law should therefore be amended to include more severe punishments for counterfeiters who refill genuine packaging and containers with unauthorised products, in order to provide a greater source of deterrence and to safeguard public health and safety.”

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One response to “Thailand clamps down on illegal refilling”

  1. fellglenn says:

    How does this law apply to the process of “legal” remanufacturing when refilling an empty core that may bear a trademark name?

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