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IPR enforcement in Laos

 

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1. INTRODUCTION TO IPR ENFORCEMENT IN LAO PDR

 

The only intellectual property law in force in the Lao PDR at the moment is a Prime Minister’s Decree on Trademarks No 06/PM (1995) and a Prime Minister’s Decree on Patent, Petty Patent and Industrial Designs No 01/PM (2002). Lao PDR legislation gives the holder of an intellectual property right the possibility of recourse to either the civil court or the penal court for an order to cease the infringements of his rights. Abuse of these procedures is subject to penalties under the Civil Procedure Law, the Penal Law and the Penal Procedure Law of Lao PDR.

 

IPR enforcement authorities:

  • The People’s Courts
  • The Public Prosecutor Offices
  • The Economic Arbitration Offices
  • The Customs Offices
  • The Economic Polices
  • The Market Control Taskforces

 

IPR enforcement coordinating agency:

 

  • The Department of Intellectual Property, Standardization and Metrology of the Science Technology and Environment Agency
  • The Branch Offices of the Science Technology and Environment Agency at the provincial level

 

National Law relating to IPR enforcement:

 

  • The Civil Procedure Law (2004)
  • The Penal Procedure Law (2004)
  • The Penal Law (2005)
  • The Customs Law (2005)
  • The Property Law (1990)
  • The Decree on Trade Competition (2004)
  • The Decree on Trademarks (1995)
  • The Decree on Patent, Petty Patent and Industrial Designs (2002)

2. CIVIL IPR ENFORCEMENT

 

2.1  Competent courts

2.1.1  First instance

  • The People’s Courts at the district level
  • The People’s Courts at the provincial level

 

2.1.2  Appeal

  • The Appeal Courts
  • The Supreme People’s Court

 

2.2 Remedies available (compensation, injunctions – preliminary and final)

 

It is possible to apply the Civil Procedure Law to judicial procedures for the intellectual property protection. The Property Law (1990) also gives broad protection to individuals who can prove ownership of a dispute item. The significant provisions are as follows:

  • The property owner has the rights to take necessary steps or measures towards the violators to rehabilitate and compensate the right owner.
  • If any individual causes damage or loss to the property of others, the owner of the property has the right to sue the violator and claim for relevant compensation

 

The court, during the civil proceeding, shall have the authority to seize such proven infringement or create an effective deterrent to further infringement and to stop production or importation of products or goods infringing the intellectual property.

 

Where infringing the products or goods, the court shall have the authority to order the destruction or other reasonable disposition of those products or goods as well as their packaging outside the channels of commerce as to avoid harm to the right holder, unless the owner of the right requests otherwise.

 

For trademark infringement:  Any individual or legal entity shall be regarded as having violated the right under trademark if he or it has made use without authorization of the owner of registered trademark or unfair competition relating to the use of trademark. The infringer of right under the trademark shall be warned or be subjected to legal sanction in such a case according to the Laws of Lao PDR.

 

For patent, petty patent and industrial designs infringement:  Any individual or legal entity shall be regarded as having violated the right under patent, petty patent and industrial designs if he or it has made use the invention or industrial designs without agreement of the owner. The infringer of right as mentioned above shall be warned or be subjected to legal sanction in such a case according to the Laws of Lao PDR.

 

2.3  Execution of court orders

 

2.3.1  Local Court Orders

The Department of Court Decisions Enforcement of the Ministry of Justice is responsible for the execution of the court decisions.

 

2.3.2 Overseas Court Orders

Any overseas court decision should be recognized and approved by the Lao courts to be effective and executable in Lao PDR.

 

3. CRIMINAL IPR ENFORCEMENT

 

3.1  Police authorities (commercial, market, economic police etc.)

  • The Economic Polices
  • The Public Prosecutor Offices

 

3.2 Competent courts and jurisdiction (including appeal)

  • The People’s Courts at the provincial level
  • The Appeal Courts
  • The Supreme People’s Court

 

3.3 Penalties

It is possible to apply the Penal Law and Penal Procedure Law to judicial procedures for intellectual property protection.  The Penal Law and Penal Procedure Law allow for the expropriation of all illegal goods from a guilty individual and for the levying of fines of up to three times the value of each item.  The significant provisions are as follows:

 

Any individual using whatever swindling method to illegally acquire another’s properties is liable to punishment by three months to two years of imprisonment.

 

In terms of selling illegal products, he/she is liable to punishment by three months to two years of imprisonment and by fines in accordance with the Customs Law and regulations.

 

According to the relevant provisions of the Penal Law and the Penal Procedure Law of Lao PDR, any infringement of a right, if committed wilfully or by gross negligence and for profit-making purposes, shall be punished fine or imprisonment for a period of between six months and two years, or by both.

 

The defendant’s profits attributable to the infringement shall be taken into the consideration of the amount of the fine.  The amount of the fine shall be fixed by the court.

 

If the defendant has been convicted for a new act of infringement within five (5) years from the previous conviction for an infringement, the court shall have the authority to increase up to double the upper limit of the penalties mentioned above.

 

The payment shall be paid to the owner of intellectual property by the infringer for damages for the prejudice suffered as a consequence of the act of infringement, as well as the payment of expenses caused by the infringement, including legal costs.

 

The amount of damages shall be fixed according to the relevant provisions of the Civil Procedure Law, taking into account the importance of the material and moral prejudice suffered by the owner of the right, as well as the importance of the infringer’s profits attributable to the infringement.

 

If the infringer did not know nor had no reasonable reason to know that he was engaged in infringing activity, the court may limit damages to the profit of the infringer attributable to the infringement and/or to pre-established damages.

 

4. BORDER CONTROL

 

4.1 Registration procedure

Not yet available

 

4.2 Registration authority

The customs offices have the authority to receive a registration request from the IPR owner.

 

4.3  Relevant courts

  • The People’s Court at the provincial level
  • The Appeal Courts
  • The Supreme People’s Court

 

4.4  Remedies (Injunction)

  • Warning
  • Fine
  • Confiscation and destruction of the infringing goods
  • Payment of damages or subject to criminal sanctions according to the nature of the case
  • Suspension of export and import activities or termination of business license

 

4.5  Border Control Measures

The customs offices have the authority to inspect and seize goods that violate the Intellectual Property rights. The customs offices would monitor and inspect both export and import.

 

5. ADMINISTRATIVE IPR ENFORCEMENT

 

5.1 Role of patent office (If any)

Claims and disputes can be resolved by mediation through the Department Of Intellectual Property, Standardization & Metrology (DISM) or the Economic Arbitration Offices.

 

5.2 Relevant courts

  • The People’s Courts at the provincial level
  • The Appeal Courts
  • The Supreme People’s Court
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