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
A trade mark owner in the Philippines found out that a local retail shop had been selling counterfeit products that infringed his registered trade mark for quite some time and it wanted to stop this illicit activity which was incurring economic damages to his company.
A chemical manufacturer was unsure about the provisions on potential patent invalidation of the new Patent Law of Indonesia, which sets a new potential ground for patent invalidation and came into effect in August 2016. Based on the new Patent Law, any patent might be vulnerable to invalidation if the patent holder does not produce the products or use the process within Indonesia. Given that the law is quite recent, it remains uncertain how the provision will be interpreted in court.
A famous fashion designer was planning to promote its brand in Indonesia. However, after carrying out a trade mark search, it discovered that a third party had registered that trade mark in Indonesia. As trade marks in South-East Asia follow the ‘first-to-file’ principle, the fashion designer cannot register the mark in Indonesia anymore even though it owns the mark in several other countries.
The European company (“Company A”) duly registered its trade mark in relation to cosmetic products in Cambodia. Subsequently, it granted exclusive distribution rights of the cosmetics bearing its registered trade mark (the “branded cosmetics”) to a local distributor in Cambodia (“Company B”), who has filed and recorded its exclusive distribution right with the Department of Intellectual Property Rights (DIPR) of the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) according to Cambodian regulations. Recently, Company B has discovered that a third party (“Company C”) practiced parallel import of the branded cosmetics into the Cambodian market.
Samsonite IP Holdings Sarl (“Samsonite”) granted its Chinese subsidiary a license to use the SAMSONITE marks in China. Through a co-branding agreement with Lenovo PC HK Ltd (“Lenovo”), it was mutually decided that Samsonite would supply specific models of SAMSONITE backpacks to Lenovo. These backpacks were to bear at least one of the SAMSONITE marks as well as the LENOVO mark. Lenovo would then give away the backpacks in conjunction with the sale of certain models of LENOVO laptops, exclusively within China.
A foreign Pharmaceutical company (“Foreign Company”) owned a Malaysian Patent covering a pharmaceutical product of alendronic acid or a pharmaceutically acceptable salt (alendronate) to inhibit bone resorption in humans. Whereas, a Malaysian company (“Malaysian company”) was granted approval by the National Pharmaceutical Control Bureau to market "Alendronate" 70 mg tablets.
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.