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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Anatomy of an anti counterfeiting raid in Myanmar




It is such early days that IP enforcement is rare in this newly opening market. This case started with a 6 a.m. flight to to the historic city of Mandalay in the middle of Myanmar. We met with our enforcement lawyer, a Burmese lady who took us to meet the enforcement police.  We then conducted 2 raids against wholesalers of counterfeit shoes. During the raids, the counterfeiters showed us a copy of their own recorded identical trademark covering shoes, which clearly conflicted with the client's internationally known brand which had also been recorded and published in Myanmar. The infringer's mark had never been published as a cautionary notice so was unknown to anyone. 

At the Police station, the counterfeiters continued to argue that they had as much rights in the mark as our client. They sought support from a friendly ex-military officer. Ultimately after a long negotiation, they agreed to (i) deliver all their stock of fake shoes up, in addition to what had been seized [approx. 1300 copies] (ii) sign an undertaking to refrain from selling copies in the future (iii) disclose the identity of the manufacturer in China from whom they imported the products. 
 
Until the trademark law is enacted and a trademark registry with a full examination system is established later this year, enforcement will remain uncertain and complex. But there is great hope that Myanmar will be an effective place to enforce once the IP system is fully functional.

1 comment:

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