In Cambodia, assuming all the relevant procedures are followed, trademarks go to the first person to register. The “legitimate” owner might be a big foreign brand with registrations all over the world, but if they don’t register the mark in Cambodia, they’re risking trouble.
In recent weeks I’ve seen an uptick in the number of clients facing such trouble. Typically they’re a foreign company selling products around the world, including Cambodia. But for one reason or another, they never registered in Cambodia. Some sneaky company – perhaps a Cambodian distributor wanting business – registers the mark from under my client.
The Trademark Law provides several solutions, but none are straightforward and all involve more time and expense than simply registering the mark in the first place. If you become aware of the situation early enough, you can file an opposition within 90 days of the registration’s publication in the Official Gazette. After the 90 day window, you’d have to request the Ministry to cancel or invalidate the mark, which is available on narrower grounds than opposition.
The take-home message is that if you’re selling a product in Cambodia, or even considering it in the future, be sure to register those marks!
For more on trademark opposition and cancellation in Cambodia, see our full report here.