Thursday, January 26, 2012

East Timor - a new country's IPR progress 10 years on

IP Komodo has followed the development of East Timor's IP system since independence in 2002. He even visited several years back. But IPR is not at the forefront of a new country's priorities. Below is how IPR protection stands after a decade.

Section 60 of the East Timor Constitution of 2002 provides that “The State shall guarantee and protect the creation, production and commercialization of literary, scientific, and artistic works, including the legal protection of copyrights”. East Timor is slowly putting into place individual laws to implement its constitution. The Civil Procedure Code came into effect in 2005 and the Penal Code in 2009. But no specific IPR legislation exists yet.

Trademarks. There was until several years ago an informal system to request the Ministry of Justice to stamp an endorsement onto a certified translated (into Portuguese), copy of an equivalent Indonesian trademark registration. However the Ministry has now ceased this. A number of trademarks were so endorsed, but the degree of protection this conferred then and now the system has stopped is uncertain. It was assumed that this created at least some legal rights, pursuant to section 60 of the constitution. But no enforcement has been undertaken.

The current option to seek protection is to publish cautionary notices. These at least gives some notice to consumers about trademark rights. Examples of newspapers are Timor Post and the Suara Timor Lorosae. Cautionary notices can be repeated every few years to ensure public knowledge.

Patents and Designs. There is currently no legislation or system in place so patents and designs cannot be protected.

Copyright. There is no copyright legislation, and as East Timor is not a member of the Berne Convention yet so there is no copyright protection. However the Constitution specifically refers to copyright so it might be possible to argue some level of protection arises.

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