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Marked increase in Cambodian trademark registrations

Marked increase in Cambodian trademark registrations

Trademark registrations increased in Cambodia over the past year, seemingly spurred on by the Kingdom’s accession to the internationally recognised Madrid system, which simplifies the process of multinational trademark registration, official figures show.

The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) database, which is updated daily, shows that 4,685 trademarks were registered in Cambodia since the start of the year, compared to 4,199 issued in 2015.

The figure contrasts with that presented in the Ministry of Commerce’s end-of-year report, which showed a significantly lower number of registrations.

Op Rady, director of the intellectual property department at the ministry, said the discrepancy was due to the ministry using 11-month registration figures in its report alongside full-year 2015 figures, which led to some local media outlets misinterpreting the data.

“There were several hundred [trademarks] that we registered this month, but they happened after we had finished the ministry’s report,” he said yesterday.

“If you include the number registered this month, it will be similar or the same [as the WIPO figure].”

Cambodia joined the Madrid Protocol in March 2015, with the agreement entering into force in June 2015. Under the Madrid system, trademarks registered by businesses in Cambodia can be recognised by all of the treaty’s 98 members, covering 114 countries.

The system “simplifies the process of multinational trademark registration by reducing the requirement to file an application at the intellectual property office in each country in which protection is sought”, according to WIPO.

Despite this protection, companies that register trademarks for their intellectual property may still face problems of infringement.

Cambodian authorities received 47 complaints of trademark violation this year, Rady said, though he insisted this was a relatively low number compared with the total number of active trademarks in the country – somewhere north of 47,000.

“The number of violation cases is small and does not impact our business environment,” he said. “Everything is still going on smoothly.”

Joseph Lovell, legal advisor for regional law firm Sciaroni & Associates, said the increased number of trademark registrations was a positive sign for the Cambodian economy.

“Trademark registrations, both domestic and international, do increase in lesser developed economies as they mature and expand,” he said.

“Trademarks are a feature of orderly commerce and the more commerce you have the more likely you are to see growth in trademark registrations.”

Lovell said while the WIPO-administered Madrid system facilitates multinational trademark registration, it was unlikely the motivator for more Cambodian businesses to register their trademarks.

“It is a simplified method for registering a mark in multiple jurisdictions, but does not in itself give any reason for companies to elect, say, Cambodian registration through WIPO if they did not have reason to register in Cambodia anyway,” he said.

Lovell explained that rather than create a unified global register, the Madrid Protocol enables trademark owners from member states to forego filing separate trademark applications in each country. Through WIPO, a single application can be forwarded to trademark offices in each of the treaty’s member states.

“The protocol provides a unified filing system for applications and not a unified register of marks,” he said.

It could, however, decrease the need for Cambodian companies to register their trademarks directly in foreign countries, he added.

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