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Myanmar begins publication of applications under trademark law

17 May 2024

Myanmar begins publication of applications under trademark law

Darani Vachanavuttivong, Managing Partner and Managing Director, Tilleke & Gibbins

On May 1, 2024, the long-awaited publication process for filed trademark applications in Myanmar under the Trademark Law 2019 commenced. Interested third parties (individuals or legal entities) can now file opposition to a published mark within 60 days of publication, citing valid reasons based on the absolute or relative grounds of refusal specified in the Trademark Law 2019.

“Myanmar’s Intellectual Property Department (IPD) initiated its ‘soft opening’ period on October 1, 2020, accepting applications for old mark re-registrations,” said Darani Vachanavuttivong, managing partner and managing director at Tilleke & Gibbins. “The grand opening took place on April 26, 2023, allowing acceptance of new mark applications under the Trademark Law 2019. Nearly four years after the acceptance of the first application, the IPD began formality examinations, starting with the earliest mark applications. Applications that have met formal requirements and successfully passed the IPD’s examination process have now been published in the IPD’s first trademark journal.”

Yuwadee Thean-ngarm, Partner and Director, Tilleke & Gibbins, Yangon

She added: “As mentioned, the publication invites opposition from the public within 60 days of publication. If no opposition is filed during this period, the mark will proceed to the registration phase without undergoing substantive examination for similarity or priority by the IPD. Accordingly, this publication marks a significant development in the country’s trademark system, bringing marks filed under the Trademark Law 2019 closer to registration.” 

Her colleague, Yuwadee Thean-ngarm, a partner and director at Tilleke & Gibbins in Yangon, said: “The publication of marks by the IPD is a crucial period for both brands and individuals in Myanmar because it opens the door for any third party to file an opposition against marks that are identical or similar to their own, which was not allowed under the old system. Most importantly, as the IPD will not conduct substantive examinations to evaluate similarity or priority of filed marks unless opposition is filed, brand owners should vigilantly monitor published marks and take proactive measures to protect their own brands.”

Given these new changes, what is the future of trademark law in Myanmar? 

Khin Yadanar Htay, Associate, Tilleke & Gibbins, Yangon

“As you may know, Myanmar has undergone a significant transformation in its intellectual property system, transitioning from a zero-database approach and shifting its trademark system from a ‘first-to-use’ to a ‘first-to-file’ system under the Trademark Law 2019,” added Khin Yadanar Htay, an associate at the same firm. “Consequently, with the publication of marks, Myanmar’s IPD is expected to establish a systematic database for mark searches and registrations under the Trademark Law 2019, aligning with international standards. Furthermore, once the opposition period lapses, the first batch of published marks that remain unopposed are poised to be successfully registered under the Trademark Law 2019, thereby securing full statutory protection within the country. This development is expected to bolster the future of legal protection for trademarks in Myanmar, providing enhanced protection and additional benefits for brands and individuals.”

- Excel V. Dyquiangco

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