Cambodia is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) treaties since July 1995 and a signatory State of the Paris Convention. Cambodia is joined the Madrid Protocol in 2015. Trademarks which are registered in a State which is also a member of the Madrid Protocol may apply for international protection in Cambodia. A franchisor who has already registered a mark in another member country of the Paris Convention may claim priority while registering its mark with the Ministry of Commerce, the Department of Intellectual Property. The duration for claiming priority is six (6) months following the prior filing date in another Paris Convention member country.
Trademarks are protected under the Law Concerning Marks, Trade Names and Acts of Unfair Competition (the “Trademark Law”). The law provides the registration procedures, scope of protection, procedures for opposing, invalidating and cancelling the marks of third parties. The application process starts from the filing of application, examination, and issuance of the certificate of trademark registration through publication. The entire process takes about 6-12 months and is a routine process. A foreign franchisor can register their mark through a local registered agent by providing to the agent a valid notarized power of attorney and 15 specimens of the marks.
A trademark registration is valid for ten years, renewable for successive ten-year periods. In order to maintain a mark or a renewed mark, the registered owner of a mark is required to file an “affidavit of use or non-use of the mark” within one year following the fifth anniversary of the date of registration of the mark. If the owner of the mark or his/her legal agent fails to file the affidavit of use or non-use, the registered mark can be removed from the register.
Filing the franchise agreement or a trademark license agreement at the Intellectual Property Department of the Ministry of Commerce is not a statutory requirement; however, we recommend such filing to obtain additional protection for the agreement. The franchisor shall first register the relevant trademarks with the relevant Department of Intellectual Property and secondly register and record the corresponding franchise agreement or trademark agreement with the same Department. This registration record is valid for two years and is renewable.
In addition to registering each separate trademark that will be used in commerce in Cambodia, the franchise agreement must be registered with the Ministry of Commerce (Department of Intellectual Property) in order to properly protect the rights of the Franchisor.
Cancellation of a Registered Mark
A request to cancel a trademark can be made to the Department of Intellectual Property of the Ministry of Commerce in the following cases:
- the trademark is confusingly similar to a registered well-known mark used in commerce outside Cambodia;
- the party requesting cancellation has registered its trademark in the Kingdom of Cambodia;