What is the legal process for trademark protection in Laos?
The legal process for trademark protection in Laos is governed by the Lao IP Law No. 38/NA of November 15, 2017 and its sub-law document, i.e. Decision No. 2822/MOST dated 17 December 2019. These legislations provide the framework for the protection of trademarks in Laos and sets out the requirements for registering and enforcing trademarks in the country.
The following is a general overview of the steps involved in obtaining trademark protection in Laos:
(i) Search and clearance: Before filing a trademark application in Laos, it is advisable to conduct a search of the trademark registry of the Department of Inellectual Property of Laos to ensure that your trademark is not already in use by someone else.
(ii) Filing a trademark application in Laos: To apply for a trademark in Laos, you need to prepare a trademark application that includes the following information: a clear representation of the mark, the goods and services that it will be used for, the name and address of the trademark owner, and any relevant documents, such as priority documents if rights of priority is claimed and Power of Attorney to a local IP agent if you are a foreigner. The trademark application must be filed with the Laos Department of Intellectual Property (DIP).
(iii) Examination of the trademark application: After the trademark application is filed, the Laos Department of Intellectual Property will examine the application to ensure that it meets the requirements for registration, such as distinctiveness and lack of confusion with existing trademarks.
(iv) Publication of the trademark: If the trademark application is approved, it will be published in the Official Gazette. This serves as a notice to the public that the trademark has been registered and provides an opportunity for anyone to object to the registration.
(v) Grant of the trademark: If there are no objections to the trademark registration, the Laos Department of Intellectual Property will grant the trademark and issue a certificate of registration.
(vi) Maintenance of the trademark registration: Once a trademark is registered, it is important to maintain the registration by renewing it within 06 months before the expiry date and using the trademark in commerce.
(vii) Enforcement of trademark rights: Once a trademark is registered, the trademark owner has the right to use the trademark to identify their goods and services, and to enforce their trademark rights against any unauthorized use of the trademark. As a trademark owner, if someone infringes on your trademark rights in Laos, you may take legal action to enforce your trademark in Laos. This may involve filing a lawsuit or seeking a resolution through alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation or arbitration.
Generally, a trademark infringement or disputes may be settled in Laos under 6 ways as provided under Article 127 of the Lao IP Law No. 38/NA of November 15, 2017 as follows:
(iii) Administrative remedies;
(iv) Remedy through Economic Dispute Resolution Committee;
(v) Judicial actions to People’s Courts;
(vi) International dispute settlement
Reconciliation: In Laos, the parties may reconcile with regard to IPR violations. The agreement resulting from the reconciliation shall adhere to contracting principles as provided for in the Law on Contract and Tort.
Mediation: In Laos, the parties may choose the mediation form to resolve their dispute at any time
in accordance with laws and regulations.
Administrative Remedies: In Laos, the parties may purpose to the intellectual property administration authority for dispute resolution relating to intellectual property in accordance with laws.
A dispute that can be remedied in administrative mean shall be any dispute relating to registration of industrial properties, new plant varieties and provision of information related to copyright and related rights.
Remedy through Economic Dispute Resolution Committee: In Laos, the parties may request the economic Dispute Resolution Committee at any time to resolve their intellectual property dispute in accordance with the Law on Economic Dispute Resolution and other relevant laws and regulations.
Judicial Actions to People’s Court: In Laos, the parties may file an action to the People’s Court to decide on intellectual property dispute in accordance with laws and regulations.
International Dispute Settlement: In Laos, the intellectual property dispute settlement of international nature shall be proceeded in accordance with international conventions and agreements to which the Lao PDR is a party.
In practice, most patent infringement cases in Laos can be settled firstly by sending a cease and desist letter or proposing a trademark licence to the infringer.