|On November 30–December 1, INTA led a delegation of staff and members to engage government officials in Dili, Timor-Leste. This is the first time an international organization has organized government and industry dialogues on trademark law in Timor-Leste. Currently, this Southeast Asian nation does not have a trademark law. Trademarks are protected through a system of cautionary notice publications. INTA will be working with Timor-Leste officials on a draft law and to improve the IP rights enforcement environment. Timor-Leste gained independence in 2002 and is Asia’s youngest country. It has also applied for ASEAN membership, which is currently under consideration.
On November 30, INTA staff and members met with representatives of the Timor-Leste government, including the Ministry of Justice and National Police of Timor-Leste (PNTL) to discuss the draft trademark law and enforcement against counterfeit goods, respectively.
INTA informed the Ministry of Justice that it provides support for legislative and regulatory changes through various policy advocacy committees, including through a dedicated Legislation and Regulation Committee. Additionally, INTA informed the officials about the INTA Model Trademark Law Guidelines, which the officials indicated they would like to receive.
In meetings with the PNTL, they noted a keen interest addressing counterfeit goods in the domestic market, noting that most markets selling consumer goods in Timor-Leste have fake goods available. The PNTL indicated that it was interested in forming a cross-government enforcement task force focused on dangerous, low quality counterfeit goods. It was also noted that enforcement officials first and foremost needed training on how to identify counterfeit goods and that a firm legislative framework was needed.
Finally, the PNTL also noted that public awareness on counterfeiting was very low. Timor-Leste is one of Asia’s and the world’s poorest countries (it ranks tenth in on Global Hunger Index) and its consumers tend to purchase the cheapest products available. INTA informed PNTL of the Unreal Campaign, focused on raising awareness among teenagers about the danger of counterfeit goods.
INTA also offered, as an initial step, trainings by video through the Customs Connection. Although focused on customs officials, these videos provide relevant information for all enforcement officials. Given interest from brand owners, INTA offered to organize future in-person trainings through the Anticounterfeiting Committee.
On December 1, INTA conducted a policy dialogue with local industry, multinational companies (MNCs), government, and local and regional members (INTA has two local law firm members). Officials from the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Finance (Customs), the Ministry of Agriculture, the National Police, AIFAESA (Quality Standards Agency), the Ministry of Health and Pharmaceuticals, and SERVE (the business registry) participated. Industry representatives included INTA members Philip Morris International and Heineken. Local industry included Timor-Leste Coffee Growers Association and a handicraft SME. Approximately 35 attendees joined the event and the program was simultaneously interpreted from English to Tetun, the local language.
The workshop opened with remarks from INTA Chief Representative, Asia-Pacific, Seth Hays on the value of IP to national economies, citing recent research released by INTA on trademark-intensive industry contribution to gross domestic product (GDP), exports, and employment. INTA also noted that brands provide an opportunity to diversify the economy away from natural resource extraction (Timor is reliant on petroleum extraction) and to move up the value chain from commodities (coffee is a major export).
In her remarks, the U.S. Ambassador to Timor-Leste, the Hon. Karen Stanton, indicated that trade with the outside world will be an important factor for Timor government officials, and that trademarks and IP are essential parts of trade.
INTA members formed a panel session to review the current state of registration of trademarks in Timor-Leste and other models around the world. José Borges Guerra (Miranda & Associados, Timor-Leste), Leanor e da Silva (CRA Timor, Timor-Leste), and Emirsyah Dinar (Affa Intellectual Property Rights, Indonesia) reviewed the current practice of cautionary notice publications in Timor, and how trademark offices function in Europe, Indonesia, and internationally, through the Madrid Protocol.
INTA’s Practitioner’s Guide to the Madrid Agreement and Madrid Protocol
is a comprehensive searchable guide covering the application of the Madrid System in member countries. Visit www.INTA.org/MadridProtocol
to learn about the practices and procedures in obtaining, maintaining, licensing, and enforcing registrations obtained through the Madrid System; how each jurisdiction treats marks extending to it; and the history of the Madrid treaties, use of the system, and the strategic considerations of whether, and how, to best use the system.
Industry representative Vinay Mathur (Heineken, Timor-Leste) provided a number of practical problems that his company has faced in Timor regarding brands, given the current lack of a proper legal framework (including issues around registering claims to future products and counterfeits/knock-offs).
In the afternoon, the discussion focused on anticounterfeiting. Timor-Leste Customs opened the session with a presentation on the current work of customs, which includes seizing counterfeit goods.
Industry representative from PMI’s anti-illicit trade group outlined the regional and local problem with fake goods coming into the market. He praised in particular the work of AIFAESA, the newly established quality standards agency.
João Francisco Sá (Inventa, Portugal) Emirsyah Dinar, (Affa Intellectual Property Rights, Indonesia), and Ted Merritt (U.S. DOJ, U.S. Embassy, Timor-Leste) spoke on the current state of enforcement in Europe, Indonesia, and the United States. Emphasis was placed on the cross-border trade in counterfeit goods.
Discussion for both morning and afternoon sessions was very lively, including among the various government officials. Participants requested that INTA convene a similar event next year to expand on certain aspects of the day’s discussion. As one attendee noted, “This is a great topic, and comes at the right time. Come next year and you will see three times as many participants.”
Should you have interest in INTA’s activities in the Asia-Pacific region, please contact Seth Hays at email@example.com.
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© 2017 International Trademark Association