As the purchasing power across increases, many SMEs are experiencing increasing demands for their products in there. When promoting your products in ASEAN, there are certain IP risks that should be kept in mind.
You need to consider the following IP issues when conducting business promotion in ASEAN nations:
Did you check whether you protected your main assets in the ASEAN markets?
Prior to any engagement with ASEAN nations your company needs to consider what know-how is valuable for your business and how this is protected in ASEAN countries. The first step is to:
- identify what IP and know-how is embedded in the component or product to be sold in the target country.
- ensure that correct IP protection is in place in each ASEAN country. By merely showing your products in ASEAN nations you increase the IP risks. This can even be the case with your partners – it is not un-common for local partners to register the company’s trade-mark in bad-faith. SO be prepared and register your trade marks early.
Does your product have a name specific to the ASEAN country?
While English is spoken widely across the ASEAN region, it is often beneficial to have a ASEAN country-specific name for your product introduced to that market. Not having a country-specific name entails an IP risk. If a brand’s country-specific name has not been decided and registered in that country prior to starting promotion the following IP risks occurs:
"When it comes to trade marks, we have seen several different ways where things go wrong for SMEs, for example, that the name that is invented by the consumers are associated with (by the nature of different languages) with issues that the SME does not feel comfortable with; that the A name is developed by a retailer or agent which the European company does not find suitable, and most importantly, that the country-specific name known in the market is registered by third parties, leaving the SME with no choice to either change all promotion material and trade mark or to buy the trade mark back – and this is often very expensive."
The solution is to find out which ASEAN trade marks your company wants to use for ASEAN markets and at the same time explore whether the chosen trade marks are available for registration.
Attending trade fairs
Trade fairs are known as a location where infringers are inspired. Therefore, when attending trade fairs certain precautions should be initiated. Avoid showcasing important know-how and ensure that visitors to your stand aren´t allowed to take photos. Some companies even restrict who has access to the exhibition stand to ensure that they have control over who can be introduced to certain products.
Before getting engaged in marketing campaigns in nations across South-East-Asia, ensure the registration of trade marks. In ASEAN, it is often the fact that trade marks are squatted.