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In-depth features

As Cambodian businesses in the entertainment sector set their sights on growth, they have been pushing government officials to improve the nation’s understanding and enforcement of intellectual property rights. A panel of experts, speaking on World Intellectual Property Day on April 26, 2021, said the country has come a long way in promoting IP rights.  

Laura Mam, a Cambodian-American who moved to Cambodia after gaining a following for her Khmer-inspired music broadcast from her California home, said Cambodia has improved in its fight against IP piracy, according to a report in the Khmer Times newspaper. 

“We used to live in a country where piracy was the norm and original music was the exception. We now live in a country where original music is the norm and copied music is the exception,” she said in a webinar hosted by U.S. Ambassador Patrick Murphy.  

Film distribution executive Simon Choo agreed that the country has come a long way, noting that just a decade ago, illegal DVD shops operated freely in front of cinemas, but that they have now largely disappeared.  

Law firms have reacted to improving IP conditions in the country by increasing the number of lawyers they have on the ground in Phnom Penh. Whereas many regional firms provided services to Cambodia from regional headquarters in Singapore or Bangkok in the recent past, most now have offices in the capital. Global law firms still tend to provide any support for Cambodia work through offices in Singapore, Bangkok, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City or another nearby city. 


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Pheng Thea is co-founder of Abacus IP, the full-service intellectual property agency in Phnom Penh. His practice involves the registration and maintenance of hundreds of trademarks, patents, industrial designs and other forms of IP. Co-founder David Haskel, of counsel Sreypeou Chaing and external advisor Tom Pearson are also key contacts. The firm has completed a successful enforcement programme on behalf of a global, US-based real estate firm for trademark infringement and unfair competition, and has filed dozens of patent filings for PCT national phase and validation of foreign patents in Cambodia. Over the past year, its trademark litigation work has involved several investigations, contentious licensing and mediation procedures before the Cambodian Department of Intellectual Property Rights. Its clients are primarily multinational corporations seeking to protect their rights in Cambodia. On the patent side, the firm primarily does validation and re-registration of foreign patents under cooperation agreements between the Cambodian and Chinese, Singaporean and European patent offices, as well as PCT national phase filings. 

BNG Legal has a deep understanding of the local business environment and culture, which has led to the firm being recognized as one of the leading IP firms in the country, most recently named Cambodia trademark firm of the year at the 2023 Asia IP Awards in Singapore. Services offered include trademark search and registration, due diligence, licensing, franchising, anti-counterfeiting and enforcement. Principal partner Darwin Hem is a key contact for patent matters; Keopichchenda Long is another, as she heads the IP and technology practice group.  

Founded by three lawyers in 2003, Bou Nou Ouk provides a range of commercial legal services to foreign and local investors, handling both the “upstream” stages of investment such as licensing as well as the “downstream” stages consisting of everyday legal issues.  

Premier firm Bun & Associates specializes in emerging markets and has been ranked as one of the top law firms in the country. It combines international and local business knowledge to advise foreign investors throughout the investment process. Phin Sovath is the key contact for IP matters.  

Borima Dy is the managing partner of DBLS Law Group; he is a prominent lawyer and litigator who has advised domestic and international corporations, foreign embassies, some of the highest-profile politicians, business leaders and individuals and has represented clients in complex legal proceedings before all levels of courts in Cambodia. 

The first officially-authorized foreign investment advisory consulting and tax law firm in Cambodia, DFDL has in-depth knowledge across the Mekong Region. Its clients are major international and Asian investors in the county, as well as large financial institutions. Managing partner L-Martin Desautels is a key contact.  

Edenbridge Asia, formerly known as Gordon & Associates, consists of a team of professionals with extensive experience of the region, aiming to add value to business transactions by providing sound commercial advice. Clients include companies from the real estate, telecommunications and hotel industries. The firm has advised on the set up of a candy factory and on a number of film-related ventures. It advises on M&A, joint ventures, capital raising, negotiations, due diligence, regulatory compliance, dispute resolution and other matters. Managing partner Brad Gordon is a key contact.  

Established in 2005, HBS Law has undergone a rebranding to align with its regional expansion, which includes the addition of Japanese-speaking lawyers. The multi-service firm has a broad clientele which includes major international and Asian companies, educational institutions and governmental bodies. Pouvchannita Sophorn is the head of IP.  

Up-and-coming Bangkok-based new-gen, full-service law firm ILAW ASIA has expanded operations to Cambodia. Founder and managing partner Somphob Rodboon is engaging, thorough and creative in his search for solutions, whether the problem lies in IP, corporate and commercial or other aspects of business law. On the ground in Phnom Penh, Vicheka Lay is a key IP contact. 

The team at KhmerLex Legal Solutions is composed of experienced lawyers, advisors, researchers and professors. The firm specializes in labour and employment but also has a practice group handling all aspects of IP. Founder Phallack Kong is a key contact of the firm.  

Mirandah Asia handles Cambodian IP issues through its office in Singapore, where director Gladys Mirandah brings more than 35 years of IP experience in Asia. She has been admitted to practice in Singapore, the United Kingdom and Brunei. The firm is noted for its work in ASEAN countries and elsewhere, and has offices in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Hanoi, Manila and Bangkok, as well as significant experience in Laos, Myanmar, Brunei and India.  

P&A Asia provides advice on a broad range of intellectual property matters, both contentious and non-contentious, including prosecuting, enforcing and defending IP in Cambodia and overseas. Its clients include financial institutions, internet companies, multinational corporations, listed companies, local small-medium enterprises and pharmaceutical companies. Attorney at law Allen Pheap Prak is a key contact.  

Ang Pich, who was instrumental in creating the Intellectual Property Association of Cambodia, is also director of Pich & Partners in Phnom Penh. Pich sits on the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, the courts established to hear serious crimes committed during the Khmer Rouge regime 1975-1979. Pich holds a Master’s of Private Law and Human Rights Law, and a Bachelor of Law from Lyon, France, and has also served as Civil Party Co-Lawyer and worked as a lecturer at the Royal University of Law and Economics and Build Bright University, and as a legal assistant at the Ministry of Women’s Affairs.  

Part of the Rajah & Tann Asia group, R&T Sok & Heng Law Office is one of the leading firms in the country and has a particular expertise in the mining, energy, information and telecommunications industries. Managing partner Chhay Heng deals with IP matters.  

Schmitt & Orlov deals with the full range of IP matters in Cambodia, from registration and commercialization to enforcement, with a strong focus on trademarks and copyright. The firm works closely with enforcement authorities at all levels, and has an in-house investigation team that identifies sightings, conducts in-depth investigations and monitors online counterfeits. Daniel Greif, the firm’s director for Southeast Asia, has consistently been rated as one of the leading trademark lawyers in the Asia Pacific region.  

Legal advisor Simon Burlinson heads the IP group at Sciaroni & Associates. Burlinson is an English solicitor with expertise in IP law, cross-border corporate transactions, data protection compliance and advises the pharmaceutical sector. Senior partner Bretton Sciaroni was one of the first foreign lawyers in Cambodia.  

Sithisak Law Office is a full-service law firm with a team of lawyers within its corporate group who are devoted to intellectual property. The firm assists in registration, applying for exclusivity registration for importation and distribution, conducting searches, enforcement and drafting and reviewing franchise agreements.  

Sok Siphana & Associates, which won Cambodia Patent Firm of the Year at the 2023 Asia IP Awards in Singapore, is the Phnom Penh member of the ZICO Law network. Founding partner Siphana Sok is currently a senior minister in the Cambodian government, where he previously worked extensively on issues related to commercial and investment legal framework, trade promotion, trade policies, trade development and economic integration. Mealy Khieu is a key IP contact. Although not an IP lawyer, managing partner Matthew Rendall can provide valuable insights on Cambodian legal developments; he has a long history of providing advice to foreign investors. The firm has assisted Yeo Hiap Seng Limited in filing a complaint letter to the Department of Custom regarding the parallel importation of Yeo’s products into Cambodia by unauthorized local importers. The firm is a former member of the ZICO Law regional law group, but is now independent. It has offices in both Phnom Penh and Siem Reap and produces its own dual-language business law journal. 

The Tilleke & Gibbins office in Phnom Penh provides guidance to clients on all aspects of intellectual property in Cambodia, and advises on licensing and regulatory issues for clients in sectors such as chemicals, food and agribusiness, franchising, life sciences, and technology. Its Cambodia practice offers a team of dedicated Khmer advisors who draw on the international expertise of its Bangkok office to provide advice on IP, licensing, and regulatory issues. Director Jay Cohen leads the IP practice; Sokmean Chea is highly-regarded for her work with clients on a range of IP issues; and David Mol is regularly praised by clients for his responsiveness and practical, business-minded advice. 

VDB Loi has an extensive track record in TMT work, including in Cambodia, advising on the full range of telecom investments and transactions. The firm is responsible for many of the top telecom deals in the region, and advises on market entry to licensing and acquisitions. It was involved in first-ever merger between two telecom operators in Cambodia and in the acquisition of a Cambodian ISP and cable TV provider, acting for the purchaser. It also acted for the purchaser on the acquisition of a mobile money service platform in Cambodia. Laysym Sim is a key contact in Phnom Penh. 

VNP Law Office’s services include drafting and advising on commercial and/or IP-related agreements as well as transfer or assignment of IP; drafting and filing the application for registration of trademarks, trade names, patents, utility models, industrial designs, copyrights and recordal of franchise and/or exclusive right; searching; and counterfeit enforcement. Managing partner Vichet Ny is a key contact. 

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