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On February 15, Upper house (Amyothar Hluttaw) Parliament of the Union of Myanmar adopted Trademark and Geographical Indication Bill, Industrial Design Bill, Patent Bill and Copyright Bill.
Amendments were made in Copyright bill by Lower house (Pyithu Hluttaw) which was returned to Upper house on Sept. 12. The approval process of the same is now at final stage. Currently, the Lower House Bill Committee is reviewing the Trademark Bill. Deliberations are going over the issue whether the
Parliament will hold to pass the said bill or wait for other intellectual property (IP) laws to be approved. ,
New law enforcement
As per Article 92 of Trademark Bill states, that the trademark owners which are registered with Registry of Deeds and Assurance will have to re-file the application in accord with new law to continue enjoy rights of a registered mark. The Lower House is also considering adding transition period (three to six months) so that trademark owners can re-apply for their marks.
The Trademark Bill is likely to be submitted before the Lower House by the Bill Committee within a month. After Parliament’s approval, the Bill will then be submitted to the President Office for signature. After which, it will be enacted as a law within fourteen days.
New features included in the new law
Myanmar was following the practice of First -to-use rule, which shall be changed to First-to-file rule, following the new laws in the country.
First-to-file is a legal concept which specifies the owner of the right to the grant of a patent for an invention. The first-to-file system is practiced in many countries including the US.
Another new change would include trade mark, service mark, collective and certification marks and possibly three dimensional, or product shape, marks in the ambit of Registered marks. Few of the following features have also been introduced by the new law :Protection of geographical indications through registry,
- Protection of well-known marks against misuse and availability of opposition and cancellation actions
- Priority and exhibition rights.
In the new law, there is no procedure for automatically re-registering marks. Therefore, all marks already recorded would need to be re-filed in order to gain protection in Myanmar. There is also no provision addressing potential conflicts between marks which is likely to cause legal uncertainty.
Patent and design bill
While the patent and design bills are making less progress, they should soon follow the same trail as the copyright and trademark bills. Although, Upper House of Myanmar voted in favor of Patent and Design Bills however, the bills cannot be enforced unless approved in Lower House.
There are good chances of Copyright Bill and Trademark Bill to be enacted within a year. Therefore, in light of such developments, companies must start building strategies to protect their IP rights.
Understanding of GI
Geographical indication means goods which originate in particular territory of a country, region or a locality in that territory, with special quality, reputation or other characteristics of the goods is essentially attributed to its geographical origin.
Benefits of new laws
It is expected that the changed laws in Myanmar will promote economic development of the country as the said bills are expected to modernize IP rights protection in the country and such amended laws for Geographical indications (GIs), which are collective intellectual property rights shall ensure legal protection for farmers and handicraft producers against cheating. Additionally, these Laws will protect consumers against misleading information or bad quality products with signs that indicate a specific geographical origin with distinct qualities or reputation.
Therefore, Such changes in laws would help in building a strong IPR regime in the country, thereby escalate investment. Bills on IPR laws would provide steady protection to inventions, products as well as trademarks and tradenames.