Myanmar is poised to shift its trademark protections from its existing first-to-use system based on colonial British statutes and case law to a brand-new first-to-file system drafted in cooperation with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
As we explained in May 2014, the change was initially expected to occur by the end of 2014, but now it appears likely that Myanmar will not transition to the new system until 2016.
Why now is the time for trademark registration in Myanmar
When the new Trademark Law comes into effect it will create new government institutions, such as the Myanmar Intellectual Property Office (“MIPO”) and the Trademark Registry. While the law is complete, there is still a great deal of uncertainty about how these institutions will function in the real world.
Fortunately, the existing trademark system, while somewhat antiquated, is well understood and offers real protections. Furthermore, trademark holders who register their marks under the old regime will benefit by continuing to receive protection without re-registration during a three-year grace period, which commences from the date the new Trademark Law becomes effective. Finally, while trademark holders should re-register their trademarks under the new Trademark Law as soon as possible after the new Trademark Law goes into effect, those trademark holders who have already registered their marks under the old regime will receive priority under the new system.
Priority status for existing registrants should prove to be a high-ground from which to manage legal risks including the circumvention of potential disputes with conflicting applicants under the new first-to-file system.
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