AFG looks at IP


The Automotive Focus Group (AFG) has managed to keep its focus on matters which can affect its members, and this month’s seminar covered “Challenges for Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights in the Automotive Industry” and was addressed by Sueb-siri Taweepon from Tilleke & Gibbins, a leading Southeast Asian regional law firm.

Sueb-siri Taweepon.
Sueb-siri Taweepon.

Tilleke & Gibbons was established in 1890 and now has 150 lawyers and consultants practicing in Bangkok, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Jakarta, Phnom Penh, Vientiane, and Yangon, so their coverage in S.E. Asia is probably the best.

The seminar was held in the Holiday Inn, which also supplied the food and drinks for the networking hungry horde, overseen by the Holiday Inn’s F&B guru Daniel Boswell. The members were unanimous in saying that the catering was the best yet! Well done Daniel.

There are various ways in which Intellectual Property can be protected, with 10 years for trade marks and 20 years for patents. However, this does not stop the criminal element producing ‘knock-offs’ immediately, as can be seen by the number of “genuine” football jerseys openly on sale. Official government figures for prosecutions are over 20 per day. Tilleke and Gibbins had statistics showing that in 2014, there were 7,391 arrests and 821,487 items seized.

Identifying the fakes can be difficult, and Sueb-siri opened the AFG member’s eyes showing slides of genuine items and the corresponding fakes. To spot the fake required attention to detail covering shape, size, lettering, and colors.

IP covers copied design, use of unlicensed technology, fake automotive parts, fake dealer/unauthorized signage, ex-licensee, grey market/parallel important.

There was another category just called “Substantial Similarity” with some Chinese cars very substantially similar. One genuine article which has lent itself to the IP thieves is Starbucks coffee, with one very humorous copy being “Starwars Coffee” with the annotation “May the froth be with you.”

Tilleke & Gibbins even have their own museum of fakes, which was started in 1989, so circumventing IP rights is nothing new!

To contact the AFG, you can email the AFG president Frank Holzer on frank.holzer at