Knowledge Highlights 22 March 2019

On 30 January 2019, the Myanmar Parliament passed the Trademark Law (“Law”) but it is not yet in force. The date of commencement of the Law will be set when the President issues a Notification. The Law signifies the inception of Myanmar’s modern intellectual property regime. Previous to the passing of the Law, businesses have had to rely on colonial-era laws to protect their intellectual property such as the outdated Burma Copyright Act 1914 and a definition of “trademark” in the Penal Code 1861.

The Law states that its objectives are to develop investment, trade and commerce by protecting marks, to protect the interests of the proprietor of the marks and to create fair market competition and a safe environment for the public by preventing trademark infringements and flow of counterfeit products into the market. The Law provides for more than the registration and protection of trademarks. The provisions of the Law apply to trademarks, service marks, collective marks, certification marks and geographical indications.

Briefly, the Law replaces the current first-to-use system with a first-to-file system, aligning Myanmar with other ASEAN countries. The first-to-file system grants the right of registration of the mark to the person who files his application which has been prepared in accordance with the requirements stipulated under the Law first. Applications to register a mark can be made in either English or the Myanmar language, though a translation may be requested by the Registrar and a registered mark is valid in Myanmar for 10 years from the filing date of the application to register the mark. The mark can be renewed for a further term of 10 years after the expiration of its current 10-year registered term.

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