New rules for trademark registration in Cambodia
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New rules for trademark registration in Cambodia

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Sokmean Chea and Sovannara Khan of Tilleke & Gibbins analyse Cambodia’s new rules for trademark registration, with significant changes to be noted by trademark owners

Cambodia is tightening its trademark procedures by restricting the filing of separate single-class applications for a mark covering multiple classes, and by ending the extension of the deadline for filing affidavits of use or non-use. Disregarding the requirement on affidavits could be especially dangerous for existing registered trademark owners, potentially even resulting in the removal of the registered mark from Cambodia’s trademark registry.

Trademarks covering multiple classes

According to an announcement from Cambodia’s Ministry of Commerce on August 1 2023, the country’s Department of Intellectual Property Rights now only accepts a single application for a trademark covering more than one international class and will not accept multiple single-class applications. In other words, trademarks intended to cover more than one class of goods or services can now only be registered via a single multiple-class application.

Previously, trademark applicants had been allowed to file separate single-class applications for the same mark covering multiple classes. The new rule promises to reduce unnecessary paperwork and simplify the process of trademark registration.

Affidavits of use or non-use

The Ministry of Commerce soon followed its announcement on multiple-class trademark registration by stating in a notification that trademark registrants who miss the deadline for filing an affidavit of use or non-use will no longer be allowed to file an affidavit after the deadline. The ministry had previously been allowing registrants to file after the deadline—such as at the time of filing their trademark renewal—but decided to adopt this stricter approach.

This is in accordance with the Sub-Decree Concerning the Filing of an Affidavit of Use or Non-Use, which requires trademark owners to file an affidavit of use or non-use within one year following the fifth anniversary of the mark’s registration or renewal.

The ministry’s notification also asserts that registered trademarks will be removed from the registry if the affidavit of the mark’s use or non-use is not filed within the required period. This applies to both domestic registrations and international registrations made under the Madrid Protocol.

Although the notification does not explicitly state an effective date, owners of existing trademark registrations should prepare to file any necessary affidavits of use or non-use that are past the legally required time period as soon as possible. Otherwise, they may face removal of their trademark registration from the registry.

Outlook

Cambodia's recent changes to its trademark registration and maintenance procedures mark a significant shift in the country’s IP landscape. The developments described above represent a positive step toward a more mature and standardised regulatory system for trademarks.

Trademark owners and businesses operating in Cambodia should remain proactive in protecting their IP rights by staying updated on regulatory changes and seeking legal counsel when necessary. By doing so, they can navigate the evolving trademark landscape with confidence and safeguard their valuable brand assets in Cambodia’s growing market.

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