Laos became a member of the Madrid Protocol in December 2015, and the Protocol entered into force in March 2016. The Madrid Protocol is administered by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). It provides a cost-effective and efficient means for trademark owners to obtain protection for their marks in multiple countries through filing one application, called an “international application,” at a single Trade mark Office, in one language, and with one set of fees.
Currently, the Ministerial Regulation concerning the implementation of the Madrid Protocol is not yet available. Trade mark protection may be granted for any sign or combination of signs capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one undertaking from those of other undertakings. That is, the sign, or combination of signs, must have distinctive character. Signs eligible for protection include:
- Words, including personal names, letters, numerals, figurative elements, and combinations of colors, as well as any combination of such signs;
- Signs not identical to a previously registered mark for the same goods or services;
- Signs not similar to a previously registered mark for the same, similar, or related goods and services, where the use of the later mark would cause confusion as to the source of the goods or services or create a false impression that they are connected or associated with another party; and
- Signs not having any of the prohibited characteristics under the IP Law (prohibited characteristics include, inter alia, non-distinctive marks, imitative or counterfeit marks, marks confusingly similar to already registered marks, marks contrary to the national security, social order, rules, laws, culture, and tradition).
Lao PDR is a member of the Madrid System of trademark registration that offers protection in up to 115 member countries worldwide. Trademarks registered in other Madrid System countries may be granted reciprocal registration and a trademark certificate acknowledging protection over the relevant mark in Lao PDR.