The Ministry of Commerce launched an online trademark registration gateway yesterday, allowing local and foreign individuals and firms to register their trademarks in Cambodia to protect them against infringement.
The Online Mark Filing System allows trademark applicants to upload the required documents and information using an internet-connected device to register their mark. It was launched as an option for filing trademarks and will operate alongside the existing manual registration system.
Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak said the new paperless system would make it easier for companies to register their trademarks, encouraging them to build their brands. He added that it improves on the existing registration system, which required applicants to travel to the ministry and present documents to government officials, creating an opportunity for corruption.
“This new Online Mark Filing System allows businesses to avoid meeting directly with [government] officers,” he said. “There will be no corruption because businesses just pay the registration fee set by the law using banking services.”
Applicants can use online payment services from three local banks – Acleda, Canadia and FTB – to pay the registration fees, he added.
The new platform was designed by a technical team from World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and took 20 months to develop, according to Yo Takagi, assistant director-general of WIPO. He said online trademark filing would improve the speed and ease of registering trademarks in Cambodia to protect brands.
It is also a first step to accessing the Madrid System, a centralised global registration system that allows applicants to file a single application to register their trademark for protection in multiple jurisdictions.
“[The new system] will help people in Cambodia to establish Cambodian brands in the global market because it is the gateway to an international system, which is the Madrid System, which covers more than 110 countries,” he said.
Trademark registration has increased in Cambodia since its accession to the Madrid System in 2015. A total of 6,913 trademarks were registered in Cambodia last year, compared to 6,339 in 2015, according to WIPO data. To date this year, 1,884 trademarks were registered.
Ny Vichet, an attorney at local law firm HBS Law, said having a clear system to protect intellectual property rights (IPR) was essential as without it small businesses cannot grow and large companies would not dare to enter the Cambodian market.
“If we have a proper system to cover intellectual property rights, business owners are ensured that their innovation and IPR are protected,” he said. “So, they are not afraid to invest or expand their business.”