YANGON, 22 May 2015 – ASEAN Member States continue to intensify efforts to modernize their trademarks regime, including through accession to Madrid Protocol, as part of the intellectual property (IP) initiatives to transform ASEAN into an innovative and competitive region as envisioned in ASEAN Economic Community. The Madrid Protocol makes it faster, cheaper and easier for regional businesses to file trademark applications in multiple jurisdictions.

A two-day awareness-raising seminar for Myanmar government officials, IP practitioners and attorneys, SME and business sector representatives was held in Yangon on 20-21 May.

H.E. Dr. Aung Kyaw Myat, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Science and Technology, mentioned that Myanmar, recognising that IPR creation, utilisation and protection are becoming more and more significant in the daily business operations of SMEs, is now in the process of submitting the draft of IP Laws, including on trademark, to the Parliament. After the promulgation of the IP laws, Myanmar plans to accede to the international agreements and treaties pursuant to the country’s requirements and commitments.

“Modern technology has increased the importance of brand reputation in a greater number of countries and increased the need for legal protection which in turn has led to greater global demand for trademarks and greater efficiency,” Australian Ambassador to Myanmar, H.E. Mr. Nicholas Coppel, added.

The in-country seminar in Myanmar follows a series of activities in ASEAN, including a basic regional training on Madrid Protocol for administrative, information, and trademark examiners held in Bangkok, Thailand on 23-24 April 2014, a regional training on Madrid Protocol for IP Attorneys and Trademark Examiners from ASEAN IP Offices from 12 to 14 May 2015 in Manila, Philippines, and precedes an advanced regional training on Madrid operations for ASEAN Madrid examiners and future Madrid examiners on 27-29 May 2015 in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Simple and cost-effective mechanisms for protecting IP in the region enhance ASEAN competitiveness by giving businesses confidence that their valuable intellectual assets will be protected if they invest and trade across borders. Accession to the Madrid Protocol, which is an international trademark treaty administered by World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), is one of the initiatives under the ASEAN IP Rights Action Plan, 2011-2015. Since the implementation of the ASEAN IPR Action Plan, Cambodia and the Philippines have become members of Madrid Protocol, joining Singapore and Viet Nam, the only ASEAN Member States that were members of the Protocol prior to 2011.

The activities contribute to enhancing the national trademark systems of ASEAN countries as part of their legal and operational preparations for accession to Madrid Protocol. Reducing the complexity of doing business across the ASEAN region will allow brand owners to shift their focus and resources on building brand reputation through trade.

Jointly supported by ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand FTA Economic Cooperation Support Program (AECSP), EU-ASEAN Project on the Protection of Intellectual Property Rights (ECAP III), and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), participants benefited from the technical expertise and experience of experts from Myanmar Ministry of Science and Technology, the Office of Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM), the EU Agency responsible for trademarks and designs, WIPO, Australia, Singapore, and Philippines.

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For more information on ASEAN IP please visit http://www.aseanip.org and http://aanzfta.asean.org.