Myanmar: The new trademark law
Myanmar has become a member of WIPO since 2001. Before the new trademark law was enacted, there was no law of trademark registration except the trademark’s definition on the Penal Code.
After 3 years, on January 30, 2019, new trademark law was coming into effect by the Parliament. The new law was expected to systematize trademark registration procedures and adhere to International standards for Myanmar to engage in International Treaties of Intellectual Property as well as WTO.
The new law comprises 2 stages which include Soft and Grand Opening. The Law was expected to come into force in Myanmar from January 1, 2020. But both stages were delayed due to Covid-19 and the fact that the Ministry of Commerce needed more time to developed and finished their system.
“Soft Opening” and “Grand Opening”
On August 28, 2020, the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) informed the public that the “soft-opening period” to refile trademarks under the country’s new Trademark Act would begin on October 1, 2020. This period is expected to last for six months. However, no actual closing date was specified in the MOC announcement. The date of the “grand opening” period of the Intellectual Property Department (IPD) begins April 1st, 2021 when all new trademark applications are applicable.
The changes in the new Myanmar trademark law
In the old system, brand owners had to manually file an original notarized declaration of ownership and legalized power of attorney with the Office of Registration of Deeds (ORD) under the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation. Then the system will proceed with recordation. Under the new system, online filing is now available for all applicants. The original hard copies are not required and the authority is the IPD of the Ministry of Commerce.
With the implementation of the Trademark Law 2019, Myanmar is turning from a first-to-use system to a first-to-file system. In addition to the IPD, all related authorities will need to adjust to the new paradigm when defining the rights of trademark owners.
In the old system, there was no actual examination of the registrability of a mark. Previously, registration could be refused if the officer felt that the mark was likely to be morally or legally objectionable, or likely to hurt the religious sensibilities of any Myanmar citizens. This rule is changed under the new system. All trademarks registered under the old system and already used will be examined under the provisions of the Trademark Law 2019 before being published in the Trademark Gazette, upon which any interested person may file an opposition.
The challenges in the new Myanmar trademark law
According to an informal briefing before the soft opening period, there are roughly 100,000 or more trademark declarations recorded under the old system. Furthermore, the recordation of these trademarks was executed manually with the original declarations returned to the trademark owner after registration. There is no official search facility or database. Moreover, the ORD keeps its records confidential. Since many trademark owners want to claim protection under the Trademark Law 2019, the IPD must ensure that their online system and server can support the expected high volume of trademark filings.
In addition to considering how many trademarks will be refiled under the new Trademark Law, the IPD will need to arrange the procedures for examining all lately refiled trademarks, as well as how much time it will take to complete this process. This is really challenging considering the high volume of trademarks.
With the change to online filing, training and guidance for users will be crucial. The training will focus not only on how to use the online system but also on the law and the purpose of each provision. Failing to provide this could result in serious delays for the registrar and IPD staff, and uncertainty of the online system.
A new Myanmar
Hopefully, the new trademark system of Myanmar will include the establishment of IP Office, IP court, and legal frames such as Rule, Regulations, Orders, Directives, Forms and online-based computerized registry system. The national IP system will comply and enable the country to be a member state of International Treaties in the IP community.
You could visit here to see Procedure of Myanmar Trademark Registration.
– You could see the full new Myanmar Trademark law here
– You could visit here to see Procedure of Myanmar Trademark Registration (effective soon).
– You could visit here to check the required documents for filing trademark in Myanmar
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