Myanmar government's efforts paid off by passing first legislation which will be passed into law.
Government stepped forward to improve its intellectual property laws formaking Myanmar an eye-catching destination for foreign investors.
The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology has prepared four draft IP bills with cooperation of the Union Attorney General's Office and other government ministries
- The Trademark Law (TL)
- Industrial Design Law (IDL)/li>
- Patent Law (PL) and
- Copyright Law (CL)
These drafts were finalized by Union Solidarity and Development Party in 2014 and were submitted to legislative committee of the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (Myanmar's parliament). On 30th January 2019, Pyidaungsu Hluttaw passed Trademark and Industrial Design Law into legislation. However, both the laws will be effective and implemented only after notification is passed by President of Myanmar. So far, there is no update when the president would pass a notification on the effective date of the Trademark Law or the Industrial Design Law.
The new IP laws of Myanmar are based on the best international IP practices, and are at par with IP laws of other ASIAN nations, the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights and the Ministry of WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) recommendations
At present, IP protection in Myanmar is insufficient for foreign investors. There are no specific trademark or IP laws apart from the Burma Copyright Act 1914. Moreover, there is no specific provision which may concern the registration of trademarks.
The lack of an IP regulatory framework has resulted in less foreign investment in the country due to weak protection laws in the nation. The trademark owner will have to declare his ownership and then register the declaration with ORD (Office of Registration Deeds)
Investors will have to show and submit this declaration to Myanmar authorities in case of Infringement.
Trademark Registration in Myanmar
Till 2018, Myanmar had no legislation on Trademark.
Proprietors were protecting their trademark by Declaration Deed as to the ownership of the mark. In order to obtain legal ownership, Trademarks were registered under section 18(f) of the Registration Act.
It was not mandatory to renew the registration. Once registered, the registration is valid, indefinitely. Country has no legislation for renewal.
It is an established practice in Myanmar to renew trademark in every three years. The owner of the mark should keep track of renewed trademarks for evidence.
Registration of Trademark is done at the Registration of Deeds Office in Yangon.
- Cautionary Notice is published in daily newspaper to aware the public and infringers.
- Renewal of Registration for indefinite duration.
- Goods are put in Myanmar Market in order to be the first user of the mark.
Assurance of Trademarks will have to be re-applied once the new law is entered into force, otherwise they will lose their validity.
As per Section 92 of the new law, "The trademark owner who has registered at the Office of Registrar of Deeds and Assurances in accord with the Registration Act before this law is coming into force, desirous of enjoying the rights of the registration of mark, shall file an application in accord with this law to get the rights of registered mark."
When the new law is enacted / entered into force window of three to six months will be given to re-apply for a mark or geographical indication
Required documents for re-filing marks are:
- Application form provided by IP Office
- Original duly recorded Declaration of Ownership of Trademark at the Registry of Deeds and Assurances
- Evidence of use may also be required such as photo of the product/shop in the Myanmar market or Customs Clearance
New IP Laws and their Benefits
Among numerous notable changes, the new law introduced a "first-to-file" system which would not require any evidence of prior use or ownership in Myanmar.
The law will significantly improve the ability of trademark owners they will be able to counter bad-faith trademark crouching.
Laws will cover owners risk by protecting and providing higher potential damage, fine amounts and custom actions in case of infringement.
In addition to above there will be specialized Intellectual Property Courts to handle all IP disputes which will handle substantive examination of applications, oppositions, invalidation and cancellation actions.
The new law also explains protection for "well-known" trademarks, which includes trademark publication and renewal, makes available multi-class applications and priority claim. Geographical indications will also be protected through registration. It extends the accessibility to register shape and packaging as trademarks.
Summary of Blog
It is believed that there will be a positive impact of new IP Laws on various aspects including businesses. They will create a simple, uncomplicated and cost-effective system of IP registration which will benefit domestic and foreign businesses who want to protect their IP.
The new process is simple, cheap (cost effective) and quick way of IP protection for Small and Large scale businesses.
As a long term plan, New IP laws will send message to international investors that Myanmar is serious about IP protection in the country and are a promising step that will encourage further growth in various sectors like retail trading, technology and manufacturing sectors of Myanmar.
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