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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Illegal legalities in SE Asia

Notarization and legalisation is an anachronistic practice causing much annoyance to IP holders for trademark and patent matters.  Its purpose is to verify and validate the signature on a document for use in IP proceedings in a state - it confers upon the document the same value as a domestically produced document. Fine several hundred years ago when everything looked different, but not in todays business world. In practice it is just an expensive barrier to efficient IP work. IP Komodo has often wondered why more organisations do not object to it. The number of representatives forging or illegally signing documents surely cannot be that high. Or can they?

IP Komodo has now come across the curious problem of stamps on documents from Foreign Ministries in two different SE Asian countries being forged. Several instances have been reported, where someone trying to avoid the cost and complexity of getting a document stamped in the Embassy for the purpose of legalisation, have found someone outside the Embassy who will do a complete counterfeit of the stamping process, for less than the cost the Embassy charges, and presumably far faster.  Why someone charged with getting such a stamp would use a cheap local forger when the whole purpose of the system is to produce a legal document is odd.

But the reality is that creating a convoluted legal process (legalisation), in countries where corruption is not uncommon leads to … yet more corruption to get around the convoluted legal process!  This problem would not exist were it not for the unnecessary process of legalization, which adds nothing to the substantive value of the document. It can’t possibly be an economically viable for the fees involved.  Until countries can the whole idea, the costs and complexity will remain and corruption is encouraged.

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