Cambodia and Lao recently joined the Madrid Protocol for the International Registration of Marks, in force since June 5, 2015 and March 7, 2016 respectively.

These accessions bring the total number of members of the Madrid System to 97, covering 113 territories or more than 80% of the global trade, thus representing a huge potential for expansion.

This International Trademark Registration system is generally faster and more cost-efficient (assuming several Member countries are targeted) than the national registration systems due to a simplified and centralized procedure. One mark can be protected in several countries simultaneously by filing one international application with a single office, in one language and by paying one set of fees in one currency.

Cambodia and Lao also recently adopted the multi-class application system for trademarks. One application can now cover several classes of products and/or services. What does it change for trademark owners?

In Lao, this means cost-savings since official fees are reduced for each additional class designated in the same application. There is no such incentive in Cambodia; official fees remain the same for each class.

The drawback of a multi-class application (for both countries) might be that in case an objection is raised by the Examiner or an opposition is filed in respect of some classes, this will affect all the designated classes. The application shall be accepted only if the refusal or opposition for the objected class(es) is overcome.

These recent changes show the persistent efforts made by the ASEAN members to modernize their national Intellectual Property systems to be in line with international standards and be more attractive to businesses seeking to expand in the region.

In a nutshell, most of the ASEAN members now follow the International Trademark Registration and multi-class systems:
ASEAN members tabl