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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Well known mark infringement case in Myanmar

Image result for Mitsubishi ElectricThe concept of well-known trademarks is not mentioned in the Registration Act or Criminal Code of Myanmar. As such, it remains unclear whether well-known marks are protected. On August 11, 2015, the Pabedan Township Court in downtown Yangon ruled in favor of Mitsubishi Electric Corporation in a trade mark infringement case against an importer and distributor of infringing breakers bearing the mark MITSUBISHI (Criminal Regular Case no. 380/2014  U Zayar Lwin, Mitsubishi Electric Corporation & PME Co, Ltd vs. U Hla Myint).

The Defendant was condemned to a fine and imprisonment under Section 486 of the Criminal Code. The Court ruled that "The Plaintiff's products have been officially distributed by PME Co., Ltd and sold worldwide under the famous trademark Mitsubishi registered in more than 140 world nations. The Defendant has been running a shop selling electrical products for more than 40 years and based on evidence provided by the Plaintiff, the famous character of Mitsubishi cannot be unremembered or unknown to the Defendant."

In determining of the sort of factors that constitute whether a mark is regarded as well-known, the court looked to the degree of recognition by the relevant sector of the public in Myanmar, the duration, extent and geographical area of the use or promotion of the mark, the sort of registrations or applications for registration and an assessment of value associated with the mark in Myanmar and abroad. This decision brings hopes to trademark owners in protecting and enforcing their marks in Myanmar and should create a pathway to the long awaited draft trademark law to also protect well known marks. 

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