Click on the topics on the right to learn about the DOs and DON'Ts of Intellectual Property in ASEAN by viewing the experiences of other European small and medium-sized enterprises. If you have an IP case which you would like to share with us please email email@example.com
South-East Asia IPR SME Helpdesk Case Studies 2015-2018
An Austrian SME operating in the sport industry, developed a new patentable technology to manufacture sports equipment and was also seeking for a Vietnamese manufacturer. The company was new to IP knowledge and patent application procedure, and therefore needed to understand the best patent application route to protect their product tailored to their needs to internationalise their operations. To pursue it goals, the company also needed to quickly draw and implement a business strategy to protect its idea and to produce in Asia without incurring in major IP risks. Their plan included manufacturing in Vietnam and sell in Europe and other Asian markets and potentially worldwide,
A Dutch company used its trade mark ‘XXXX-LON’ registered in Vietnam for a wide range of products and services and it entered into a licensing contract with its subsidiary in Vietnam (the Subsidiary), whereby the Subsidiary is authorized to use the trade mark ‘XXXX-LON’ for steel frames and other steel products under Class 06.
The Subsidiary discovered that many companies in Vietnam have been trading and marketing some construction materials similar to their products and called them ‘XXXX-LINE’, which sounded very similar to its trade mark ‘XXXX-LON’.
After investigating, the Subsidiary found out that it was one of its previous Vietnamese sub-contractors (the Vietnamese Company) to have filed an application for registration of the trade mark ‘XXXX-LINE’ for services under Class 35: "Trading in metal sheets" and Class 42 "Processing metal sheets", and marketed their products, including aluminum sheets, steel sheets, steel ceilings, aluminum ceilings and steel frames, as ‘XXXX-LINE’.
A German company, owner of a trade mark (“XXX”) protected in Vietnam since 1995 for uninterruptible power supplies, suspected that a consignment infringing its trade mark was being shipped to Hai Phong Port in Vietnam. The shipment contained a large amount of uninterruptible power supplies bearing the sign "XXX-UPS’’, imported by a local company (the Vietnamese Company).
Mobix Auto (“Mobix”) is a European company specialised in manufacturing parts and accessories for automotive manufacturers. Having achieved considerable market share in its home market and some other European countries, Mobix plans to introduce its products to the South-East Asian market, after learning of the growing demand for vehicles and vehicle components in this region.
Before entering the region, Mobix attends an automotive trade show organised in Singapore to survey the potential markets in the region, and to establish contacts with potential local partners. At the trade show, Mobix comes into contact with Metro Singapore (“Metro”), a distributor of parts and accessories in Singapore and the region.
A French pharmaceutical company tried to file two trade marks with the Department of Intellectual Property Rights ("DIPR") for goods including cosmetics, soaps, shampoos and perfumes. The company had already successfully registered these two trade marks in more than 15 jurisdictions. The DIPR issued a Notice of Preliminary Rejection of Mark Registration, on the basis that both trade marks were descriptive, therefore asking the applicant to provide supporting arguments and evidence to show that the marks were distinctive.
A manufacturer of engines for agricultural activities had its trade mark duly registered in Laos. Lately, then found out that counterfeit products bearing its registered trade mark were being commercialized in several local retail stores. The issue was only discovered when the company received complaints about the product quality from buyers who mistakenly bought the counterfeit products which they thought were originals. This affected the company’s business and brand reputation.
Liwayway Marketing Corporation ("Liwayway") is the owner of a trade mark that was registered with the Thai Registrar of Trade Mark in various classes. However, its trade mark was possibly being expunged due to the request of Oishi Group Public Company Limited ("Oishi"), a Thai exporter of products such as aerated water, fruit juices, ready-to-drink green tea and carbonated drinks. Among others, the grounds put forward by Oishi was that there had been non-use of the mark for a period of at least 3 years up to 1 month before the expungement action ("Statutory Period").
“Company A” in Thailand submitted a trade mark application to the Thai Department of Intellectual Property (DIP) to register the mark “TMB Make THE Difference” for banking services in Class 36. After examining the application, the DIP accepted to protect the mark, but with the phrase "Make THE Difference" disclaimed for being descriptive. The company was reluctant to disclaim their right over the phrase "Make THE Difference" as they considered it an important slogan in the company’s branding strategy.
A UK distributor of men's and boys' apparel and furnishings (Company A) is interested in the Thai market and would like to register a trade mark for its products to be distributed in the local market.
Two Hollywood studios, “Voltage Pictures” and “QOTD Film Investment”, are the right owners of the two movies “Father & Daughters” and “Queen of the Desert”. They have been subject to serious copyright infringement carried out by illegal downloaders in Singapore for quite some time.
ASEAN IPR SME Helpdesk Case Studies 2013-2015
A European electronics producer with an internationally recognized brand for personal computers (BHT) is interested in setting up business in South East Asia. Upon carrying out their initial research into one of the ASEAN markets, they soon discovered that a prior registration for their brand existed in that market, having been submitted by a local party 5 years before. The local registration covered stereo systems and electronic radios. The European company was advised by a local attorney that the trade mark registration by the local party would effectively block any application put forward by the European company.
An up-and-coming European fashion boutique chain was approached by a local business to open an outlet in an ASEAN country. The local company requested a 5-year exclusive dealership agreement with the European boutique chain.
The licence was granted exclusively for the use of the trade mark amyclick with the European boutique’s logo. In addition, the local outlet committed itself to exclusively selling the amyclick branded clothing which was to be supplied by the European company only. The local outlet agreed that no other brands would be sold in their store.
A small British company produces a very successful line of clothing under the brand name SHO.
The British company distributes its clothing locally in ASEAN through a dealer. The dealer reported to their British partner that they had become aware of cheaper ‘fake’ SHO branded clothing becoming available on the local market. The British company hired investigators to look into this.
Upon carrying out a market survey, the investigators discovered that several shops were actually selling counterfeit SHO clothing.
A small branch of a French jewellery manufacturer with activity in Indonesia distributes a successful line of rings, bracelets, and earrings designed in France. New collections are available on the market every 6 months. Due to the relatively long period of time needed to register an industrial design in Indonesia (about 24 months to 36 months) and high registration fees, the company decided not to apply for design protection for its collections in Indonesia.
At the same time, the company has become aware of cheaper imitations of its jewellery becoming available on the Indonesian market under a different brand.
A Swedish producer of internet games is a market leader in the development and promotion of online social networking games for teenagers. The company has millions of teenage internet users worldwide, including in Southeast Asia.
In 2010, the company registered the names of their most popular games under .cn (China), .kr (Korea) and .jp (Japan), as those were considered the primary Asian markets for their games. It neglected to register its names in the ccTLDs of Vietnam (.vn and .com.vn), Singapore (.sg and com.sg), and Laos (.la).
A British pharmaceutical manufacturer is a market leader in the production of an anti-cancer drug, which it has been exporting to every major developed country for the last 20 years, and also more recently to developing countries, particularly in Southeast Asia.
The active ingredient of the drug was patented, but the original patent expired 3 years ago. However, a new improved process for making the drug was patented 10 years ago, and this patent is still in force in various countries, including Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
Two years ago, the manufacturer found out that a generic manufacturer based in Vietnam was making and exporting the anti-cancer drug to Malaysia, and being sold in these countries for half the price of their own drug. This was having a serious adverse effect on sales.
A British manufacturer of biscuits has been selling cookies in Malaysia for more than 20 years, and has had a registered trade mark 'ChipsMore' for these goods during that time.
Two years ago a Malaysian company started manufacturing and selling cookies under the brand 'ChipsPlus.'
The British company was advised that they could sue the Malaysian company for trade mark infringement and also 'passing off', which can be used to enforce unregistered trade mark rights and exists in Malaysia as it is a Common Law country.
A Spanish apparel company successfully launched branded-clothing shops in Indonesia, and next planned to open a new branch in the south of Thailand. The company's owner was aware of the value of a trade mark, and had already registered his trade mark in Indonesia for his goods in International Class 25 for 'clothing', 'headgear', and 'footwear.'
From his experience of registering his trade mark in Indonesia, he already knew that the registration process can take up to two years. Thus, as soon as he started thinking of opening his branch in Thailand, he filed a trade mark application in Thailand. The designated goods for this application were the same as those in the Indonesian trade mark registration (i.e., 'clothing', 'headgear', and 'footwear'). However, his Thai trade mark application was rejected by the Registrar for the reason that the description of the goods was too broad under the Thai trade mark registration practice.
A leading Italian fashion company is engaged in the retail clothing and apparel business. The Italian company's operations are extensive, and it has numerous stores throughout the Southeast Asian region. The Italian company owns several registered trade marks that protect its brands, including the trade mark 'AAA', which is registered in many countries worldwide. Indonesia is among these countries, where the mark is registered under the goods and services category in Classes 18, 25, and 35.
The trade mark registration in Indonesia under Class 25 was made in 2008. Given the proper registration, the Italian company was certain that no identical or deceptively confusing similar marks would be allowed to be registered in the same categories of goods and/or services.
It seems, however, that the trade mark examiner in Indonesia has less stringent examination criteria when comparing similarities between applied-for marks and prior-registered marks. A mark identical to 'AAA' with respect to the category of goods in Class 25 was applied for by a local individual in Indonesia in 2010. This was then published in the Trademark Gazette to allow for any opposition by third parties at that time, within the deadline to oppose.
A famous French culinary school tried to register its 1895 trade mark LE CORDON BLEU in the Philippines but it was opposed by a local entity which was owned by one of the graduates of the same school. The graduate started using the same mark in the Philippines long before the French school tried to register but never applied for trade mark registration. The local entity argued that it was the first to use the mark in the Philippines, thus it should be entitled to register the mark ahead of the French school. Subsequent to filing the opposition, the local entity filed its own trade mark application covering the same mark.