Trademarks in Cambodia are registerable upon application to the Department of Intellectual Property Rights, within the Ministry of Commerce of Cambodia. Trademarks are governed by the Law Concerning Marks, Trade Names and Acts of Unfair Competition of 2002, as well as implementing regulations. The registration process is relatively straightforward and transparent in Cambodia, following international norms and practices.
As a preliminary matter, only visible trademarks may be registered – thus excluding sound, smell, taste and other non-visual, non-traditional marks. Product designs, packaging, architectural designs, holograms, as well as the typical word and device marks, are all registerable in Cambodia.
Cambodia applies a first-to-file system, with no requirement of use, nor intent to use, at the time of application. The Cambodian trademark application can be submitted in paper directly to the Registrar, or for Cambodian applicants and registered agents, using the Registrar’s online e-filing system.
The application form requires the full name and address of the applicant, a specimen of the mark, the international classification (Nice Class) and specification of the goods or services, together with payment of the official filing fee. Cambodia practices a disclaimer system, thus it is recommended to disclaim any generic or clearly descriptive words at the time of filing, or else the application will be provisionally refused.
Foreign applicants are required to appoint a licensed trademark agent, whereas local clients may do so if they wish – in either case a power of attorney is required. The power of attorney must be notarized for foreign applicants, and certified by a Cambodian attorney for local applicants.
Regarding classification, Cambodia allows for multi-class applications, and follows the Nice Agreement (though not officially a treaty member). Because the official fees are charged per class, there is no cost advantage to multi-class applications. Furthermore, if a multi-class application is issued a provisional refusal, all of the marks will be delayed until the refusal is overcome. It is thus recommended to file individual, single class applications for speedier processing.
Priority may be claimed under the Paris Convention – the Cambodian trademark application must be filed within six months from the earlier application date, and accompanied by a certified copy of the priority document.
Upon submission of the required documents, the Registrar will issue an Acknowledgement of Filing Instruction, and the application information will be published in the Official Gazette and on the online Cambodian Trademark Database maintained by WIPO.
The processing time for Cambodian trademark applications is approximately nine months, assuming no provisional refusals are issued. A provisional refusal will be issued if the mark is not registerable, which is the case if it is:
– Incapable of distinguishing the goods or services of one enterprise from those of other enterprises;
– Contrary to public order or morality or good custom;
– Likely to mislead the public or trade circles, in particular as regards the geographical origin of the goods or services concerned or their nature or characteristics;
– Identical with, or is an imitation of, or contains as an element, an armorial bearing, flag and other emblem, a name or abbreviation or initials of the name of, or official sign or hallmark adopted by, any State, intergovernmental organization or organization created by an international convention, unless authorized by the competent authority of that State or organization;
– Identical with, or confusingly similar to, or constitutes a translation of a mark or trade name which is well known in the Kingdom of Cambodia for identical or similar goods or services of another enterprise;
– Identical with, or confusingly similar to, or constitutes a translation of a mark or trade name which is well-known and registered in the Kingdom of Cambodia for goods or services which are not identical or similar to those in respect of which registration is applied for, provided that use of the mark in relation to those goods or services would indicate a connection between those goods or services and the owner of the well-known mark such that the interests of the owner of the well-known mark are likely to be damaged by such use; or
– Identical with a mark belonging to a different proprietor and already on the Register, or with an earlier filing or priority date, in respect of the same goods or services or closely related goods or services, or if it so nearly resembles such a mark as to be likely to deceive or cause confusion.
Should a provisional refusal be issued, the applicant may consent to any requested disclaimers and/or appeal the grounds for the refusal by submitting a letter of arguments and accompanying evidence. The provisional refusal must be answered within 60 days of notification, which may be prolonged for an additional 45 days upon written request.
Once the Registrar determines that the mark is registerable, they will issue a notice of acceptance, at which point the applicant must pay the official registration fee. A trademark registration certificate will be issued and the mark published in the Official Gazette, which begins the 90-day opposition period.
Post-registration, trademark holders must record an affidavit of use or non-use in the fifth year of registration, or else the mark may be subject to cancellation. Trademark registrations are valid for ten years from the date of application, and may be renewed for further ten-year terms indefinitely upon request and payment of the official fee.