Questions on border control measures in Laos
1. Whether it exists the customs filing for trademarks in Laos. If exists, please kindly send us the basic introduction of the customs system.
Our advice: Laos has not initiated a formal Customs recordation system. However, if the trademark owner is aware of a shipment containing counterfeit goods, they may inform Customs and file a motion by submitting an application form provided by Customs and pay a bond or deposit to initiate actions for suspension of Customs clearance. The IP Law of Laos allows IPRs owners and/or Customs to initiate actions for suspension of Customs clearance of suspicious counterfeit goods. The tariff officer and other competent officers at the Lao borders have the rights and duties of inspecting the imported goods and seizing and confiscating infringing goods. So far, most counterfeit goods in Laos have involved food and drugs.
Prima facie evidence of infringement is required to file such information. Thus, trademark owners should be able to collect some documents to support their claims. Counterfeit trademark goods and pirated copyright goods may be referred to the Customs Department.
Counterfeit trademark goods is defined as goods bearing, without authorisation, a trademark, which is identical to the trademark validly registered in respect of such goods, or which cannot be distinguished in its essential aspects from such a trademark. Such goods thereby infringe the rights of the owner of the trademark in question under the IP Law.
Pirated copyright goods mean any goods that are copied without the consent of the rights-holder or person duly authorised by the rights-holder and which are made directly or indirectly from an article where the making of that copy would have constituted an infringement of a copyright or a related right under the IP Law
2. The specific requirements (application materials) for filing the customs.
Our advice: The IPRs holders in Laos must provide the following documents prior to inspection and suspension:
(a) A motion for inspection and suspension using the standard form issued by the Customs Department;
(b) Evidence of relevant IPRs and adequate evidence of prima facie infringement of such rights in compliance with the IP Law;
(c) The names of the relevant checkpoint(s) or place(s) where goods will be imported or exported;
(d) A detailed description of the goods sufficient enough to make them readily recognizable by the Customs officer;
(e) Any other information (if any), such as photos of infringing goods or details of the importer or exporter, as information for the Customs officers;
(f) A security deposit of USD1,000 deposited in cash, by check or by bank guarantee;
(g) An execution of a guarantee to cover any expenses of Customs authorities, which may arise from the requested suspension; and
(h) A receipt of payment of the security deposit
3. The fees for filing the customs, including official fees and your service expenses.
Our advice: In case of request for suspension of customs clearance against a shipment of suspicious infringement goods, a security deposit of USD1,000 deposited in cash, by check or by bank guarantee must be made.
To enable us to provide you with the involved costs for customs suspension, we need to have in our hands the initial information/evidence of the suspicious shipment.
4. The time required for filing the customs.
Our advice: It may take us 2-3 working days to make necessary preparations and file a request for customs suspension.
Customs may maintain the suspension for ten (10) working days. However, suspension may continue if the applicant has provided evidence that judicial action has been initiated. The applicant must initiate judicial action with the Court against the owner of the allegedly infringing goods within ten (10) working days upon receipt of the notice of suspension. Failure to initiate judicial action within the statutory time entitles the customs officer to release the goods immediately and to compel the applicant to compensate for damages suffered by the owner of the goods.
5. The protection period of the customs filing for a trademark.
Our advice: As answered to your question 1 above, Laos does not have a formal trade mark recordation system. However, if the trade mark owner is aware of a shipment containing counterfeit goods, he or she may inform customs and file a motion to initiate actions for suspension of customs clearance of suspicious counterfeit goods .
In addition, we still need your explanation in a very specific problem. For example, if the trademark ”FUNLE” has already applied for customs filing, while the letter “F” is the design font, then does the separate “F” design font still need to be filed? That is to say, Will the Customs’ seizure of trademark infringement be detained because it is designed in the same way as one of the letters in the registered trademark? Is it similar to the registered trademark that will be seized by the customs, or must the same trademark be detained?
Our advice: It is likely that the customs officers in Laos will not seize such goods. The customs officers only accept to suspend the shipment of counterfeit trademark goods which is defined as goods bearing, without authorisation, a trademark, which is identical to the trademark validly registered in respect of such goods, or which cannot be distinguished in its essential aspects from such a trademark.