Intellectual Property Rights
Intellectual property rights (IPR) are very crucial for companies doing business in Cambodia – IPR helps
companies to protect their products from being copied or counterfeited, or to protect their exclusive rights to sell
products in a given market.
Since the Kingdom of Cambodia became a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2004, several laws on IPR have been adopted.
As a result, investors and business owners can take advantage of these legal frameworks to protect their products, trademarks, inventions and industrial designs.
In the scope of IPR, counterfeit products and parallel imports are the main problems to deal with. Counterfeit products cause a critical danger to businesses and consumers, because they are perceived by consumers as being of the same quality as the genuine goods, but with a cheaper price and are potentially harmful to the public.
“Beyond this, the non-respect of IPR stiffens creativity and therefore the competitiveness of any given economy in the long run,” said Mr. Arnaud Darc, Chairman of the European Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia (EuroCham).
Product and Distribution Rights
Pirated products in Cambodia, ranging from counterfeit medicine and fake computer software, to pirated movies, books and music, are still a big challenge.
The US authorities have warned factories in Cambodia that if they continue to use pirated computer software in their administrative duties such as Microsoft Word and Excel, their cargo would be conﬁscated or destroyed when they export their products to the US.
Mr. Pily Wong, CEO of Hung Hiep (Cambodia) Co., Ltd, and former country manager of Microsoft Cambodia, has said 95 percent of computer software used in Cambodia is pirated.
“The garment factories are making money, and they are taking advantage of low labor costs in the country,” Mr. Wong said.
“Maybe the country might be a least-developed country, but in terms of the companies themselves, they are not smaller than the ones in India and China.”
Foreign business and political leaders are aware that they could have difﬁculty to attract more investors if they do not crack down on counterfeit goods.
Jean-Gaetan Guilemaud, chairman of the EuroCham Healthcare Committee, said that counterfeit pharmaceuticals products cause more than a million deaths each year. Hence, it is necessary to stop all counterfeit products.
“Health care in Cambodia is an $800 million industry, and 15 to 20 percent of pharmaceuticals are estimated to be counterfeits in many markets,” he said.
As for Mrs. Soy Monica, senior external affairs manager for consumer goods at Unilever in Cambodia, she said that more than 50 percent of the company’s products were affected by counterfeiting.
This fact makes her company lose around $5 million in Cambodia.
The Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) has passed a number of laws and regulations to protect IPR in the kingdom, and to comply with the WTO obligations.
Currently, the laws which have been enacted include the Law on Marks, Trade Names and Acts of Unfair Competition (2002); the Law on the Copyright and Related Rights (2003); the Law on the Patents, Utility Model Certiﬁcates and Industrial Design (2003); the Law on Breeder Rights and Plant Variety Protection (2008).
The Law on Marks, Trade Name and Acts of Unfair Competition, enacted in 2002, is the ﬁrst law to protect IPR in the country. “The exclusive right to a mark, as conferred by this Law, shall be acquired by registration in accordance with the provisions thereof,” Article 3 of the Law on Marks, Trade Name and Acts of Unfair Competition.
The Law also deﬁnes the registration procedures, invalidation and removal, collective marks, licensing of marks, trade names, infringement and remedies, border measures, assignment or change in ownership, etc.
The Law on the Copyright and Related Rights, enacted in 2003, is to provide to authors, performers and producers the protection of their works of art, literature, culture, broadcasting etc.
“The purpose of this law is, by providing for the rights of the author, and the rights related thereon with respect to works and the protection of cultural products, performance, phonogram, and the transmission of broadcasting organization in order to secure a just and legitimate exploitation on those cultural products, and thereby contribute to the development of culture,” Article 1 of the Law on the Copyright and Related Rights.
Article 3 of the same law stipulates that the kind of work that could be protected by the law are works of authors of Cambodian nationality or people who have habitual residence in Cambodia; works that were ﬁrst published in Cambodia, or works that were ﬁrst published abroad but were brought to be published in Cambodia within 30 days; audiovisual works of producers having their headquarters or habitual residence in Cambodia; works of architecture erected in Cambodia and other artistic works incorporated in a building or other structures located in Cambodia; and all works for which Cambodia has an obligation to grant protection under international treaties.
Article 7 of the above law stipulates that the law protects all kinds of reading books or other literary, artistic, scientiﬁc and educational documents; lectures, speeches, sermons, oral or written pleadings and other works of the same characteristics; dramatic works or musical dramas; musical composition, with or without words; audio-visual works; works of painting, engraving, sculpture or works of collages; photographic works and architectural works; computer programs and design encyclopedia documents relevant to those programs, etc.
To serve as an evidence of ownership in case of having a dispute on the rights of ownership, the authors or rightholders may deposit their works at the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts. The ministry shall issue the certiﬁcate of Registration for the right-holders.
Scientific and Industrial Rights
The Law on the Patents, Utility Model Certiﬁcates and Industrial Design, promulgated in 2003, provides the protection for granted patents, utility model certiﬁcates and registered industrial designs in Cambodia.
“This Law provides protection for granted patents and utility model certiﬁcates and for registered industrial designs in the Kingdom of Cambodia in accordance with this Law and the Patent Cooperation Treaty,” Article 1 of the Law on the Patents, Utility Model Certiﬁcates and Industrial Design.
The purpose of the law is to encourage innovation and scientiﬁc and technological research and development; to stimulate and promote increased internal and external commerce and investment; to promote the transfer of technology to Cambodia in order to facilitate the industrial activity and the development of the economy; and to provide protection for industrial property rights and to combat the infringement thereof, as well as illegal business practices.
According to Article 4, “Patent” means the title to be granted to protect an “Invention” that usually means an idea of an inventor contributing to the solution of a speciﬁc problem in the ﬁeld of technology. The Registrar shall pay an annual fee for his/her patent that shall expire 20 years after the ﬁling date of the application for the patent (Article 45 and 46).
In addition, Article 89 stipulates that any combination of lines or colors or any three-dimensional form, or any material, which gives a special appearance to a product of industry or handicraft and can serve as a pattern for a product of industry or handicraft, is deemed to be an industrial design.
“For the purposes of this Law, any composition of lines or colors or any three-dimensional form, or any material, whether or not associated with lines or colors, is deemed to be an industrial design, provided that such composition, form or material gives a special appearance to a product of industry or handicraft and can serve as a pattern for a product of industry or handicraft, and appeals to and is judged by the eye,” Article 89 of the Law on the Patents, Utility Model Certiﬁcates and Industrial Design.
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