Saturday, October 6, 2012

Myanmar trademark issues

As Myanmar starts to open up, a number of interesting IP problems present themselves. Apart from the obvious issue of a lack of IP laws (new ones are proposed in 2013), about which you can read more here.
Most major brand owners either chose to or were forced to retreat from the market by sanctions against the regime. However time did not entirely stand still in Myanmar and businesses continued or new ones opened, often with foreign brands or variants. The Bangkok Post reported on some of the issues in early September. IP Komodo's colleagues' recent visit to Myanmar confirms many of these.
Star Cola, formerly a partner of Pepsi before they withdrew from the market has a logo rather like Pepsi's. Pespi now has a new partner and sells again in the country.
MacDonald's faces a different problem namely a lookalike called MacBurger. The yellow M is probably the main trademark concern they will have. Dunkin Donuts also have a copy version called J Donuts using the same colours scheme, pink and orange. However J Donuts is owned by the former leader's son, so any dispute will surely test whether there is to be any rule of law!
There are many others. Trademarks have not been registrable, merely deposited and advertised to create reputation and common law rights. When a full registration system arises then we can expect to see two types of conflict. Firstly those seeking to register their marks under the new systems will be seeking to register ahead of copycats. Secondly those who recorded their marks under the current system will then seek ways to assert those rights against others, to test whether they gained any rights at all. Hopefully some good transitional provisions will help make these issues clear.    

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