How is a trademark application refused registration in Laos?
As a matter of principle, a trademark application in Laos may be refused on absolute or related grounds. Grounds of refusal of a trademark application are specified in Article 16 and 23 of the Lao IP Law.
Below are main grounds where a trademark application in Laos may be refused registration or opposed:
(i) Likelihood of Confusion: This refers to the possibility that the trademark may be confused with an existing trademark that is already registered or in use. To assess if there is a likelihood of confusion, DIP’s examiner will evaluate elements such as the resemblance of the marks, the relatedness of the goods or services, and the trade routes through which they are sold. If DIP’s examiner determines that confusion is likely, the trademark application will be denied.
(ii) Descriptiveness: The trademark is considered too descriptive or lacking in distinctiveness, meaning it simply describes a feature or characteristic of the goods or services it is associated with. Examples of descriptive trademarks include “Fresh-Baked Bread” for a bakery and “Soft-Touch Lotion” for a skin care product. Descriptive trademarks are ineligible for registration unless they have acquired a secondary meaning, meaning that the trademark has become distinctive through its use over time.
(iii) Merely Ornamental: The trademark is used merely as an ornamental or decorative feature and not as a source identifier. Merely ornamental trademarks are not registrable because they do not function as trademarks to identify the source of goods or services.
(iv) Genericness: The trademark is generic and cannot function as a source identifier because it refers to a class of goods or services rather than a particular source. Examples of generic trademarks include “Laptop” for computers and “E-book” for electronic books.
(v) Deceptive: The trademark is misleading or deceptive and misrepresents the nature of the goods or services it is associated with.
(vi) Government Insignia: The trademark is similar or identical to a symbol, emblem, or insignia that is protected by government regulations. Trademarks that are similar or identical to government insignia are not registrable because they may be confused with government symbols and may infringe on government rights.
(vii) Immoral or Scandalous: The trademark is considered immoral or scandalous and is therefore not registrable. Trademarks that are immoral or scandalous are not registrable because they offend public morals and may be disrespectful to certain groups of people.
(viii) Similar to another’s trade name: The mark that is identical, or similar to a trade name for a business that provides the same, similar, or related goods and services.
(ix) Untrue origin: The mark that consists of or bears a geographical indication which identifies a place other than the true origin of the products.
(x) True origin: The mark that consists of or bears a geographical indication which, although literally true as to the territory, region or locality in which the goods originate, falsely represents to the public that the goods originate in another territory.