Cambodia has experienced rapid economic growth over the last decade and is attracting larger amounts of foreign direct investment from China, Korea and Japan, etc. Cambodia is expected to be one of the most important markets in Asia in the next decade, in which, Intellectual Property (IP), especially protect trademark in Cambodia plays an increasingly important role in promoting the economy.
Since the accession to the Madrid protocol on June 05, 2015; trademark applications can be filed to the Department of Intellectual Property (DIP) of Cambodia through International and National channel. Consequently, the recent years witness an increasing number of trademark applications filed to the DIP each year, many of them are trademarks consisting of non-Latin characters (Chinese, Korean and Japanese, etc.). The question here is whether non-Latin characters are eligible for trademark protection in Cambodia. Within this article, we would like to share some aspects of trademark protection in Cambodia.
1. Types of trademarks in Cambodia
The current IP Law of Cambodia defines a mark as “any visible sign capable of distinguishing the goods (trademark) or services (service mark) of an enterprise”. Signs may be in the form of letters, numerals, words, phrases, shapes, pictures, images, logos, including two-dimensional signs, three-dimensional images or their combinations, presented in one or several given colors. In other words, the mark may consist word signs, which are presented in standard characters or in special, non-standard characters that may pertain to any alphabet, and may have one or more colors.
The mark can be figurative signs, that consist of one or more figurative elements. Figurative signs may have one or more colors but will not contain any words, letters, digits, numerals. The mark can also be mixed signs, which consist of a combination of one or more words, letters, digits, numerals or ideograms with one or more figurative sign or non-word element.
Non-visible signs, such as sound, olfactory (odor, scent or smell), taste and moving marks are not registrable as a trademark in Cambodia.
The marks are used to distinguish the goods and/or services of one trader from those of another. They also provide legal protection for your brands and help you guard against counterfeiting and fraud.
2. Will non-latin characters be protected trademark in Cambodia?
According to the current regulations on trademark in Cambodia, there is no provision prohibiting the protection of trademarks consisting of non-Latin characters. In practice, all trademark consisting of non-Latin characters are smoothly accepted to protect trademark in Cambodia.
Cambodia accepts the trademarks, which contain the non-latin characters, such as characters not of Latin origin: Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai or Arabic characters, etc. The reason may be because Khmer is also non-latin characters. However, please be noted that it is required to provide with translation and transliteration of each character when filing the trademark application for this kind of mark. This practice is similar to that of Laos – the neighboring country of Cambodia.
In contrast, in another neighboring country, Vietnam, where shares the similar trademark practice, non-latin characters of languages that are unreadable, incomprehensible and unmemorable to the common knowledge of Vietnamese consumers shall be considered indistinctive and cannot be protected as a trademark.
In different languages, a character can have many different meanings. As a result, when a non-latin trademark is made up of many characters, it will have different meanings. As a matter of prudence, in order to protect trademark in Cambodia, the applicant may consider incorporating the registration of English transcription and/or translation into the sample of trademark. On the other hand, in particular case, the trademark applicant should consult the Cambodia trademark agent for precise advices and to avoid possible risks.
One more thing to keep in mind is that the criteria for trademark examination on the basis of Absolute Ground are strictly considered in Cambodia, therefore, when the mark consists of words or phrases that describe the designated goods/services, the owner should consider the overall distinctiveness of the mark and willingly accept disclaimer of descriptive words or phrases.
In case you require more information or require advice to protect trademark in Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos as well as other IP matters, please do not hesitate to contact us via email: email@example.com
More information about trademark protection in Cambodia can be found HERE.