The key legislation governing intellectual property issues in Laos is the Law on Intellectual Property (Law No. 01/NA of December 20, 2011, as amended), which covers industrial property, new plant varieties, copyright, and related rights. Although this law is now entering its third year of implementation, the country’s IP officers remain relatively inexperienced, especially with regard to handling IP infringement cases and verifying whether products are genuine or counterfeit. As a result, brand owners in Laos are facing an uphill battle when it comes to stemming the tide of counterfeit goods, and they are left wondering how this situation can be improved.
One avenue to creating a better business environment that is less encumbered by markets brimming with counterfeit products is to have better-trained IP enforcement officers. In view of this, Tilleke & Gibbins, together with the Lao Department of Intellectual Property (DIP), began cooperating with several major clients to hold IP enforcement training sessions focusing on product identification for government officers in Laos.
In the November 2012 issue of Informed Counsel, we wrote about our first such training session, which we held in Vientiane, Laos, on September 14, 2012. It was a groundbreaking event, as it was the first time that key government agencies worked together with private companies to cohost an event dedicated to IP enforcement training in Laos.
Now, a second such event has taken place. On December 18, 2013, Tilleke & Gibbins and the DIP held another product identification training; this time, for officers in Savannakhet province in southern Laos. Five brand owners and an industry association also joined in cohosting the training.
The training began with Mr. Tiengkham Xaisanavong, Director of the Science and Technology Department of Savannakhet, officially opened the event. He pointed out the problems presented by counterfeit goods in Laos, and he requested that all attendees take careful measures to monitor counterfeit goods in the market that could potentially have a negative impact on consumers, brand owners, the national economy, and innovation.
A total of 39 government officers from different agencies in the southern provinces of Laos attended the training. The officers asked many useful questions concerning product identification techniques, and they learned a great deal through comparative case studies about how certain cases are handled in Thailand. This was a very productive event, and it was a good initiative to raise anticounterfeiting awareness and build relationships with government officers in Laos.