Parallel consultation meetings on trademarks, designs and information technology with representatives from the ASEAN national IP offices and the ASEAN Secretariat in Bangkok on 18-20 February discussed a range of initiatives to improve IP services in the region.
Top of the agenda were the feasibility study on an ASEAN trademark registration system, updates to the ASEAN trademark and design examination guidelines, and updating mechanisms for the ASEAN TMview, TMclass and DesignView online tools, as well as the possible implementation of recommendations made in the feasibility study on the establishment of the ASEAN IP Academy.
During the opening proceedings, DIP Thailand Deputy Director General Nusara Kanjanakul highlighted the importance of the ASEAN IP offices and the EU working together towards greater cooperation on IP services.
Noting that IP-intensive industries are increasingly at the heart of ASEAN economic growth, EU Delegation to Thailand Counsellor Isabelle de Stobbeleir, Economic and Trade Section, commented that a single trademark application system would be a game-changer for the capacity of small businesses to invest in new markets, by reducing administrative burden and costs.
ARISE+ IPR Project Leader Ignacio de Medrano Caballero concurred, adding that, “The discussions today represent a significant step forward on the path of regional integration and convergence of IP systems in ASEAN, resulting in economic benefits for the region.”
In a combined forum of the trademark, design and IT delegates, the recommendations on potential models for the establishment of an ASEAN IP academy were presented. A regional academy would greatly assist the provision of IP training resources in countries with limited capacity, support cooperation between existing IP academies, promote the sharing of best practices between the national IP offices, and provide greater capacity for visibility, among other benefits.
Following AWGIPC approval of the concept note in January, the ARISE+ IPR feasibility study on a regional ASEAN trademark system will consider aspects such as legal and institutional infrastructure, stakeholder interests, and the impact on national trademark systems.
A regional trademark system would potentially reduce the time and cost for businesses to register their trademarks across all ten ASEAN Member States and create greater certainty on registration procedures, ultimately improving the ease for businesses to operate in the region and fostering new investment.
Representatives from each ASEAN Member State provided updates on the latest developments in their respective national trademark systems, laws, and regulations. The delegate from Myanmar presented the main features of the new trademark law.
Delegates also discussed the updating of the ASEAN Common Guidelines for the Substantive Examination of Trademarks, including the procedure, inputs required from the ASEAN IP offices, timeline for revision, and training initiatives.
Following the latest developments from each IP office on their national design laws and regulations, the EUIPO expert provided information on the accession and implementation process for the Hague Agreement for the International Registration of Designs. Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, and Singapore are members of the Hague Agreement, with the other ASEAN Member States currently working towards accession.
Delegates also discussed the possibility of establishing an ASEAN design convergence network, based on the EUIPO Convergence Programme. Among initial priorities proposed for such a network are the development of a Graphical User Interface, protection for partial designs, deferment of publication, interface of industrial design protection with other IP rights such as copyrights and trademarks, and training on the Locarno classification system for designs.
The ASEAN Secretariat representative updated the delegates on the status of amendments to the ASEAN Common Guidelines on the Examination and Registration of Industrial Designs. ARISE+ IPR aims to deliver training on the new guidelines once they are finalised.
Updates on technical matters relating the transmission of data to the ASEAN IT tools were presented by the EUIPO IT expert and delegates conferred over several solutions. A number of IP offices are providing data for future integration into the international DesignView database of industrial design registrations, with the Philippines and Brunei Darussalam already integrated. The EUIPO expert also demonstrated the simplicity of filing trademark applications online and tools to assist trademark examiners in their work.
Delegates also considered the potential establishment of an ASEAN IT Tools Support Help Desk to assist with their maintenance. ASEAN TMview, ASEAN TMclass and ASEAN DesignView are the premier tools for conducting searches of trademarks, accepted goods and services for trademarks, and published and registered industrial designs, respectively, and are widely used by IP rightsholders and legal practitioners. The databases were developed by the ASEAN IP offices under the auspices of a prior ASEAN-EU project on IP rights.