Introduction to Industrial Design Law in Cambodia
An industrial design registration is a form of intellectual property that protects a new, special visual aspect of a product. In Cambodia, industrial designs are protected under the Law on Patents, Utility Models and Industrial Designs of 2003, along with a Prakas (Declaration) on the Procedure for Registration of Industrial Design of 2006. Industrial designs are registered with the Department of Industrial Property of the Ministry of Industry and Handicraft. In addition, through a special agreement with the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore, industrial designs covering Cambodia may be registered through the Singaporean authority, and vice versa.
Most recently, Cambodia acceded to The Hague System for the International Registration of Industrial Designs, effective February 25, 2017. The system provides a practical solution for registering up to a hundred designs in over 65 territories through one single international application. Together with Cambodia’s recent accession to the Patent Cooperation Treaty and the Madrid System for International Registration of Trademarks, this development radically simplifies the procedures and reduces the cost for foreign IP holders protecting their rights in Cambodia. By number of registrations, industrial designs are the second most important form of IP in Cambodia, after trademarks.
Registerable Industrial Designs
An industrial design is defined in the law as “any composition of lines or colors or any three-dimensional form, or any material, whether or not associated with lines or colors, […] provided that such composition, form or material gives a special appearance to a product of industry or handicraft and can serve as a pattern for a product of industry or handicraft, and appeals to and is judged by the eye.” Thus, aspects that pertain to other senses, such as touch or sound, are not protectable. Protection does not extend to parts of a design which serve solely to obtain a technical result and to the extent that it leaves no freedom as regards arbitrary features of appearance.
Industrial designs must be “new” to be registered, meaning they cannot have been disclosed to the public, anywhere in the world, by publication in tangible form or by use or in any other way, prior to the filing date or, where applicable, the priority date. Disclosures to the public shall not be taken into consideration if a) it occurred within twelve months preceding the filing date or, where applicable, the priority date of the application or, b) by reason or in consequence of acts committed by the applicant or his predecessor in title or of an abuse committed by a third party. Industrial designs that are contrary to public order or morality cannot be registered in Cambodia.