How does Cambodia’s IP legal framework compare to International Standards?
Cambodia was approved for WTO membership in September 2003. However, due to internal political difficulties, Cambodia did not join the WTO until July2004. Prior to its WTO accession, Cambodia began to take steps to ensure that its IP laws were in compliance with its WTO member commitments. The Law Concerning Marks, Trade Names and Acts of Unfair Competition (“Trade Mark Law”) was enacted in 2002 with a procedural sub-decree passed in 2006. The Law on Patents, Utility Model Certificates and Industrial Designs (“Patent Law”) was passed in 2003 with a procedural sub-decree issued in 2006, and the Law on Copyrights and Related Rights (“Copyright Law”) was enacted in 2003.There is not yet any regulation in the field of trade secrets; however, the Ministry of Commerce is currently in the process of preparing a Law on Trade Secrets and Undisclosed Information. Other remaining laws to be passed include a Law on Geographical Indications and a Law on Integrated Circuits and Layout Designs.
Cambodia is also a member of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, which takes precedent over domestic Cambodian regulations in the case of conflict between the two. In addition, Cambodia is a member of the WIPO Convention, the Agreement of Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), and the Convention on Biological Diversity. Although Cambodia has established many new laws in the field of IP, it will be a number of years before Cambodia comes into full WTO compliance. Cambodia’s IP legal framework is still in the early stages of development, and enforcement of IPR in Cambodia remains a problem. Nevertheless, there are procedures in place with respect to registration and enforcement of IPR, which are relatively efficient and which can be used by anyone who wishes to protect their rights in Cambodia.
The in the following sections we will provide you with a number of tips and “watch-outs” for SMEs planning on protecting their IP in Cambodia.
IP TIPS and WATCH-OUTS in Cambodia
- Cambodia’s IP laws are not yet in full compliance with the country’s WTO commitments. Although Cambodia’s IP laws are in the early stages of development, there are fairly efficient procedures in place for registering and enforcing major IP rights (trade marks, patents and copyright).
- There is still no regulation in place in the field of trade secrets. However, a new piece of legislation is currently being drafted.
Copyrights TIPS and WATCH-OUTS in Cambodia
- Although copyright in Cambodia arises automatically, it is recommended that you voluntarily register the copyright with the Cambodian Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts for purposes of evidence in future administrative or judicial proceedings.
Patents, Utility Models and Industrial Designs TIPS and WATCH-OUTS in Cambodia
- The Cambodian government may revoke patents, utility model certificates and industrial design certificates, and/or shorten the time of protection. The Cambodian Government is also granted the right to exploit a patented invention itself, or allow third parties to do so, for the purpose of promoting “public interests”, including national defense, nutrition, health and development.
Trade Marks TIPS and WATCH-OUTS in Cambodia
- Cambodia’s Trade Mark Law was only recently adopted. As a result, there are still significant gaps and uncertainties with respect to the Trade Mark Law’s application and interpretation.
Trade Secrets TIPS and WATCH-OUTS in Cambodia
- There is not yet a law specific to trade secrets in Cambodia. However, as with trade secrets in other countries your business should take sound internal measures to ensure your trade secrets are not accidentally or intentionally leaked to competitors or to the public.
Customs TIPS and WATCH-OUTS in Cambodia
- Only clear-cut cases of infringement may be subject to border control measures.
- The law does not provide a procedure for suspension of customs clearance for goods that infringe patents, utility models or industrial designs.
Enforcement WATCH-OUTS in Cambodia
- Initiating civil procedure in Cambodian civil court can be time-consuming and expensive due to systematic problems in the Cambodian judiciary. However, the civil court does have the authority to grant damages. For copyright and trade marks, taking border control measures is a viable option to enforce their rights in Cambodia. Border control measures, however, are not available to patent owners, or owners of utility model certificates and industrial designs.
The South-East Asia IPR SME Helpdesk supports small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) from European Union (EU) member states to protect and enforce their Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in or relating to South-East Asian countries, through the provision of free information and services. The Helpdesk provides jargon-free, first-line, confidential advice on intellectual property and related issues, along with training events, materials and online resources. Individual SMEs and SME intermediaries can submit their IPR queries via email (email@example.com) and gain access to a panel of experts, in order to receive free and confidential first-line advice within 3 working days.
The South-East Asia IPR SME Helpdesk is co-funded by the European Union.
To learn more about the South-East Asia IPR SME Helpdesk and any aspect of intellectual property rights in South-East Asia, please visit our online portal at http://www.ipr-hub.eu/.
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