First Delegation Visit to Nepal, Working with International Governmental Organizations, Advocating for Safe Regional E-Commerce

Published: May 15, 2018

The Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) held the 32nd ASEAN Summit in Singapore from April 25 to April 28 under the theme “Building a Resilient and Innovative ASEAN.” A major item on the agenda was pushing more e-commerce in the region.

INTA has been emphasizing a need for policy makers to pay attention to the surge of counterfeits being sold online in the region as e-commerce is being promoted. Most recently, INTA published an opinion piece in Singapore’s Today Online, titled, “In advancing e-commerce, ASEAN should study the problem of fake goods sold online, protect consumers.”

Working with Partners Across Asia

On April 7, INTA supported the ASEAN IP Association’s annual general meeting, held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Undersecretary of State, Ministry of Commerce Samheng Bora delivered opening remarks. He noted that Cambodia is a member of a number of international agreements on intellectual property (IP), which is rare for a least developed country. He noted that Cambodia is also paying great attention to IP rights enforcement, citing efforts by the Cambodia Counter Counterfeiting Committee, and he noted that the growth in online counterfeiting is a concern for the government.

INTA organized a panel session on online counterfeiting, moderated by Toe Su Aung (Elipe Ltd., UK) and featuring panelists Ellen Lin (, China), Brian Law (Eversheds Harry Elias, Singapore), Wiramrudee Mokkhavesa (Tilleke & Gibbins, Thailand), and Sophia Hou (Lusheng, China). The panelists provided an overview of how online counterfeiting is tackled in their respective jurisdictions, including how a sales platform views these issues. INTA’s newly revised best practices on how to combat the sale of counterfeit goods online, “Addressing the Sale of Counterfeits on the Internet,” was discussed. The panelists also discussed the need to address online counterfeits on a regional level through cross-border information sharing and coordination. Malaysia’s Digital Free Trade Zone was highlighted as an example of how e-commerce offers small and medium-sized enterprises great promise for economic advancement, but also can present potential problems if the legal framework is not robust, such as by providing for customs recordals.

INTA in Nepal

From April 10 to April 12, INTA participated in an International Criminal Police Organization training on the fight against pharmaceutical and health-related counterfeits in Kathmandu, Nepal. Two dozen representatives from Nepal’s enforcement agencies attended the event to hear from industry and foreign governments on how to protect consumers from fake pharmaceuticals and personal care items.

INTA’s Chief Representative Officer, Asia-Pacific, Seth Hays, spoke on behalf of the Association, sharing the resources of INTA’s Anticounterfeiting Committee, including the online customs training webinar series, “Customs Connection.”

INTA also organized a delegation of members to make the first formal visits to the Department of Industries, which is in charge of IP registrations. The INTA delegation met with the Director General of the Department of Industries, Shankar Aryul. The Department of Industries shared recent efforts to digitize files, including all trademark registrations, a massive project which is currently under way.

Partnering Across the Region

INTA was invited to participate in a regional think tank event organized by the Institute of Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on April 18. This half-day program released the research paper and IP index produced by IDEAS. INTA shared its impact study, The Economic Contribution of Trademark-Intensive Industries in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand, which was released last year.

The keynote speaker was Zulkarnain Mohammad from Malaysia’s IP Office, the Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia (MyIPO). He noted that MyIPO has been receiving a number of new IP filings. About 60 percent of filings are foreign filings overall (including patent and trademarks). MyIPO is committed to improving this trend and fostering more domestic filings and innovation.

MyIPO has been undertaking public awareness campaigns, such as IP Funtastic, IP Summer Camp, a national IP award, and an IP fund of MYR 500,000 to support filings by students and researchers. He emphasized the role of the ASEAN Working Group on Intellectual Property Cooperation action plan to implement and move these issues forward.

Marolita Setiati (Spruson Ferguson, Indonesia) presented a paper on ASEAN IP policy. She noted that Singapore’s increasing rankings in the IDEAS International Property Rights Index are due to a focus on technology improvements. Malaysia has slightly decreased in the rankings, and this is due to enforcement issues, though officials are focusing on areas such as online infringements through the country’s Special Internet Forensics Unit. Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand have relatively low rankings and this is again due to enforcement issues. Indonesia is improving, due mostly to the recent adoption of a customs regulation (Government Regulation No. 20) to control the import and export of goods infringing IP rights.

Sinclair Davidson (RMIT University, Australia) spoke on the framework of political attitudes that are influencing IP and anti-IP sentiment in Australia. He noted the anti-consumer sentiment that drives much of the attitude.

Raza Ullah Khan (Alternative Solutions Institute, Pakistan), spoke about the IP situation in Pakistan. He noted that there is a high amount of informal trade through porous borders. Pakistan is the world’s 18th largest economy and ranks 121st on the IDEAS IP Index. He noted that the laws in Pakistan are robust, but implementation is weak. This is the major driver for poor performance on these indexes. Piracy is rampant in higher education, as many textbooks are copies.

Ganesh Muren of Saora Industries, a young entrepreneur, talked about his startup and what IP means to him and his company. The company is dedicated to solving water cleanliness issues in rural Malaysia. He discussed the problems he faces trying to monetize his IP. He said that the government could make it easier to enforcement IP rights when they are infringed. He suggested that there could be an ASEAN IP bank for collaboration with others working in similar fields.

On April 30, INTA partnered with the Anticounterfeiting Society of Indonesia (MIAP) on a half-day program focused on the current state of Indonesia’s e-commerce anticounterfeiting. Representatives from Pfizer, Inc. (USA) and Luxottica Group, S.p.A (Italy). spoke on the issue of online sales of counterfeits in their industries and how it negatively impacts public health. Mr. Hays shared INTA’s views on voluntary best practices to combat the sale of counterfeit goods online. Officials from the Pharmaceutical Regulatory Authority and the Ministry of Telecommunication and Information shared recent government initiatives and regulatory changes.

INTA World IP Day Events in Singapore, Brunei, Laos, Myanmar

World IP Day (WIPD) was celebrated on April 26. The week included a number of events in the region in which INTA participated.

On April 24, INTA participated in WIPD events in Singapore organized by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the UK Intellectual Property Office, the French National Institute of Industrial Property, the Japan External Trade Organization, the IP Office of Singapore, and the World Intellectual Property Organization. The UK High Commissioner to Singapore and the U.S. Chargé d’Affaires in Singapore opened the event.

INTA Board Member Louis Chan (Procter & Gamble, Singapore) represented the Association at WIPD events in Bandar Seri Begawan in Brunei Darussalam.

Laos was celebrating WIPD with a week of events, exhibitions, and performances. The Prime Minister opened the Laos IP Fair on April 23.

On April 25, INTA staff delivered a presentation at the Laos Women’s Union as part of WIPD. The topic covered the importance of trademarks to economic development and empowerment for women. INTA again relayed findings from its ASEAN impact study on trademark intensive industries in southeast Asia. INTA staff also spoke about the important role that women leaders play in the organization and the trademark industry.

Also speaking at the event were Dino Santaniello (Tilleke & Gibbons, Laos), who delivered a presentation on enforcement of IP rights in Laos. Professor Yoshitoshi Tanaka of the Tokyo Institute of Technology delivered a presentation on the role of patent protection.

In Myanmar on April 26, INTA member Carla Federis (BDO Bank, Philippines) delivered a presentation on the importance of building a brand and service mark in the financial industry. As Myanmar has yet to pass its first trademark law, the interest in developing trademarks in the country was well received, and INTA will work with partner organizations in the country in the future to continue building awareness of trademarks and to encourage the passage of the country’s first trademark law.

Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of items in the INTA Bulletin, readers are urged to check independently on matters of specific concern or interest. Law & Practice updates are published without comment from INTA except where it has taken an official position.

© 2018 International Trademark Association