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Thailand Unfazed As US Worries Over Copyright Violations

United States acknowledged a country's ability to issue such licenses in accordance with WTO rules, the lack of transparency and due process exhibited in Thailand represents a serious concern," the USTR added.

The reports cite rampant copyright violations on books, DVDs and apparel here in addition to Thailand's generic drug efforts. It calls it "further indications of a weakening of respect for patents."

In protest against the USTR report, around 30 Thai activists protested outside the US embassy on Thursday. The activists accused the US Trade Representative's office of grouping Thailand with copyright offenders such as China, Russia and India in retaliation for the government's decision to allow generic versions of AIDS drugs and heart medication.

Wearing black T-shirts with crossed-out pictures of US President George W. Bush, they unfurled a banner reading: "Evil USA: Stop threatening access to treatment in Thailand."

"This protest is to express our dismay and outrage at the USTR decision in response to Thailand's decision to issue three compulsory licenses," the activists were quoted.

So-called compulsory licenses are allowed under World Trade Organization rules so that countries can temporarily suspend patent protections on medicines to safeguard public health.

Thailand has issued compulsory licenses for AIDS drugs Kaletra and Efavirenz and popular heart disease medicine Plavix. The government plans to import generic versions of the drugs from India, but could also choose to manufacture them itself.
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