Brand New IP Law to Come Into Force in Laos

A new Law on IP (No 38/NA), dated November 15, 2017 has been published on Laos official gazette, on May 25, 2018. This new law, replacing the previous law on Intellectual Property No. 01/NA of 2011 will come into force on June 9, 2018 (15 days after the publication). In order to provide support for trade and investment, and to adapt Lao system with the modern economy, new significant amendments have been introduced on new IP law.

Regarding amendments on Trademarks regulations, it is now possible to register 3D images and animated imaged as a trademark. Additionally, an opposition procedure has been introduced for which, any third parties who considers a trademark to be confusingly similar to theirs may file the opposition within two months from the publication date of the trademark. With the previous Law on IP, only cancellation procedure was provided. Also, the registration will be valid for a period of 10 years starting from the filing date, and not the registration date as it was provided by the previous version of the Law.

The protection on copyright is broader as under new IP law, the broadcasts that are conducted by hardwire or by wireless transmission also be protected. This addition leads all type of broadcast to fall under the protection of the law.

In Laos it is possible for the parties to ask intellectual property administration authority to settle the dispute. The new Law now only provide administrative remedies for disputes related to the registration of industrial property rights, copyrights (a related rights) and new plant varieties.
There are no major amendments regarding Industrial Design and Patent/Petty Patent, except the opposition procedure against these objects is now available with the opposition period of 60 days and 90 days respectively.

In conclusion, the new IP law is a first step into meeting international standards regarding IP regulations. The major change can be seen in the rights provided to third parties and new plants varieties, which is an important area for Laos economy. Further, law and precision regarding this new law are awaited.

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