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
In an ongoing case, a European engineering firm, PT Basuki, filed a claim against a large construction company in Indonesia and several other parties, for the misuse of its secret know-how in boiler construction. PT Basuki claimed that its secret boiler design know-how was used by the defendant to develop similar products, however, PT Basuki's claim was dismissed by the Bekasi District Court. The judges reasoned that the Commercial Court rather than the District Court ought to have jurisdiction over the case because the case concerned intellectual property, and the Commercial Court had previously heard a related industrial design case between the same parties. However, the Supreme Court upheld the plaintiff's appeal against the case dismissal. The case was sent back to the Bekasi District Court to be retried and is still on-going.
The Supreme Court ruling confirms what the law has already stipulated - the case was correctly brought before the district court in Bekasi. The initial rejection of the case by the District Court was incorrect and can only be explained by their difficulty with, and lack of experience in, handling trade secret issues. This is a common problem in developing IP jurisdictions in Southeast Asian countries where trade secret issues are seldom brought before the courts despite the fact that the law may provide for it.
The new Indonesian Electronic and Information Technology Law also contains provisions against unauthorised access to computer systems. However, we have yet to see an actual application of these provisions.