Thursday, August 23, 2012

IT laws in the US reach into Asia's piracy world

An article in this week's Bangkok Post shows how US laws' extra territorial effect impacts on the IP arena. Most US states have Unfair Competition laws which target importers of pirated software and IT products created using it. This includes businesses overseas who sell their IT products to the US.
The laws also apply to those who design unrelated IT products using pirated software. Beware Asian businesses convicted of unlicensed software (see here for details of previous software cases in the ASEAN region).  Countries with significant IT industries and a high rate of piracy, like Thailand therefore are concerned.
Both state attorney-generals and the IP owners can take action under the laws. Notices can be issued to the infringing company, which can mean to companies outside the US.  They may bring litigation in the US, but this may not matter to the foreign company, without reciprocal judgment enforcement. However its products may be blocked from importation into the US.
The big fear expressed in Thailand is that so many people use pirated software that a large swathe of Thai IT exports to the US could be affected.  The Thai authorities expect to raid thousands of local companies in the next year and 90% of these will likely be found using pirated software, according to the Royal Thai Police Economic Crimes Suppression Division.
As the world rebalances economically, IP Komodo expects more attempts by so called developed markets to prevent perceived unfair competition from increadingly successful emerging countries, where local rules are laxer and their companies can lower costs illegally to compete in an allegedly unfair way.  

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