The Myanmar Intellectual Property Department (IPD) has finally begun receiving trade mark applications. The first phase of the opening has begun on 1 October 2020 and is considered a ‘soft opening’ until the new trade mark law comes into full force. During this period, trade marks filed previously under the Registration Act 1918 with the Registrar of Deeds can be refiled. This will secure the earlier date as the priority date, and parties who have been using their trade marks in Myanmar may also refile with proof of use. The soft opening period is to last six months.
A large number of marks have already been filed after a week’s time, and there will be a few days of down time for e-filing system maintenance from the 7th to 12th of October. Unfortunately, a few IT teething problems have been encountered such as files being returned to the wrong place. One of the forms TM2 has not been created yet, therefore the IPD is proposing that these related marks be filed in April 2021.
Meanwhile the Registrar of Deeds still accepts new trade mark applications, a parallel registration available during the soft-opening period. However, a COVID related problem has also arisen as a Stay-at-Home restriction has been imposed on 28 areas of the Yangon Region. This includes the area where the Registrar of Deeds is located, which is going to make filings challenging in the coming weeks since there is no e-filing in the region.
The IPD is expected to open on 1 April 2021. Theoretically, after that day, new trade marks can be filed and the patents and designs registries will may possibly be open as well. Much depends on the new IP laws being ready to take effect with all the implementing regulations, as well as the IPD's own systems and capacity in place.
The IP community in Yangon will surely be busy over the next six months.