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What is the Eligibility of Hemp and Cannabis Products in Thailand for Trademark Registration?
As the cannabis industry continues to grow around the world, countries are increasingly considering new laws aimed at relaxing the regulations. Reports about the legalization of hemp and cannabis have been circulating in Thailand since 2019. There has been further easing of regulation for these products over the past 12 months, but what does this mean for potential brand owners?
Earlier this year, the easing of some restrictions on the use of hemp and cannabis as active ingredients in products such as food and cosmetics paved the way for the Thai industry. Hemp and cannabis have gained worldwide popularity as medicinal herbs due to the presence of two main active ingredients: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Entrepreneurs in Thailand are riding their backs on this global cannabis wave and have included these active ingredients in a wide range of products to drive further sales. Lately we have seen an increasing number of cannabis products such as cannabis oils, cannabis biscuits, cannabis tea or cannabis coffee in the local markets.
As a result, we have seen an increase in trademark registrations for products containing hemp and cannabis by individuals and companies at home and abroad. However, we anticipate that the Thailand Trademark Office will reject most of these filings due to the lack of the required license.
In order to register trademarks for products containing hemp and cannabis, the Trademark Office requires applicants to provide evidence that they have received approval from local authorities to manufacture or distribute such products.
According to the Narcotics Act (No. 7) BE 2562 (AD 2019), hemp and cannabis products are still considered narcotics. Manufacturers or manufacturers who intend to manufacture or use these products must apply for a license from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of Thailand. As of October 2021, the FDA will only make licenses available to Thai nationals or corporations. According to the latest announcements, the FDA will not consider granting such licenses to foreign companies until 2024 at the earliest.
Therefore, we recommend entrepreneurs who are currently unable to acquire a license but want to secure trademark rights from using terms related to narcotics (such as hemp, cannabis, THC, CBD, etc.) in the description of. foreseen goods. These points are likely to raise an objection upon review. We recommend replacing such terms with more general terms such as “herbs”, “herbal remedies” or “medicinal herbs”.
Since hemp and cannabis are treated as herbs according to the National Thai Traditional Medicine Formulary (2021 Edition) published by the Thai Ministry of Health, the registration of a trademark in class 5 for herbs, herbal remedies or medicinal herbs should offer sufficient protection to enforce the trademark against infringers. In cases where cannabis is an ingredient in a product such as cannabis biscuits or cannabis coffee, brand owners can simply remove cannabis from the list of goods and request “cookies” or “coffee” instead. This should be wide enough to protect your goods. Once a foreign trademark owner receives the necessary approvals from the FDA, they can re-register the trademark for more specific hemp and cannabis products or continue to rely on more comprehensive protection.
The content of this article is intended to provide general guidance on the subject. Expert advice should be sought regarding your specific circumstances.
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