The current crisis in Myanmar following the military coup of February 1, 2021 has devastated the country. The progress of the brand new regime of this emerging ASEAN nation was not spared by the reverberations that followed. Amid the political and economic uncertainty, a succinct update on the current state of affairs in trademark protection in Myanmar reads:
“Soft Opening” period
The “soft opening” period, a designated period for the initial priority filing of old trademarks registered in the Myanmar Deeds and Insurance Register under the old trademark regime, was at least tentatively to last until the end of March 2021. However, this period seems likely to be extended for the time being due to uncertain circumstances and the resulting lack of developments, including any information on the “grand opening” date, which is the official launch date for the deposits of trademarks under the new, more conventional trade mark registration system.
“Soft opening” re-archiving
The Myanmar Department of Intellectual Property online reclassification system remains operational, subject to technical (including internet-related) failures that may occur from time to time. The initial re-filing is a relatively smooth process, especially in cases where the basic details of the re-filing application (e.g. trademark, class (es), product / service specification) and applicant details (name and address of the owner) correspond to the last details of the mark as it was registered under the “old regime”, and the applicant is also able to submit copies of the registration / renewal of the “old scheme ”(stamped statements) as well as warnings published in newspapers for the mark in support of the re-filing of the application. Owners of old marks without any warning notices should therefore be published before making a new filing.
The complete procedure for the re-filing step has not yet been confirmed and the Department of Intellectual Property is currently accepting new filings online without requiring payment of government fees or submission of additional official forms at this time. The requirements for subsequent examination (including proof of use) as well as the final registration procedure should also be formalized; these seem likely to take more shape as the eventual launch of the grand opening approaches.
Trademark owners who first sought to register new trademarks in Myanmar under the “old regime”, before initiating a new “soft opening” filing with that registration in support, have faced challenges. seriously disrupted operations of the register of acts and insurance as a roadblock. In the current uncertain circumstances, the only logical alternative approach at this time may be to consider requesting a new filing with evidence to support commercial use instead, if such use had started before the 1st. October 2020 (the new registration system “Soft Opening” launch date).
Given the legal complexities outlined above, compounded by post-coup instabilities, brand owners with business interests in Myanmar should seek expert support and advice to navigate the uncharted waters of the new trademark regime. from Myanmar.