The Department of Intellectual Property (DIP) of the Ministry of Science and Technology of the People’s Republic of Laos began accepting multi-class applications as of February 1, 2016. On December 20, 2011, the DIP announced that Article 33 of the Intellectual Property Law of Laos would be revised to allow the filing of more than one class through a single trademark application. Prior to this announcement, only single class trademark applications were accepted in Laos. The revised measures, however, were not implemented until February 1, 2016.

It is expected that the new measures will prove advantageous to trademark owners for the following reasons:

Efficient examination of trademark applications—filing a multi-class application will mean all the classes will be examined simultaneously and the registrar’s decision will be handed down for all classes at the same time;

Cost effectiveness—trademark owners will save costs by not having to file separate applications for each class. However, the government fees will be payable on a per class basis; and

Easier renewal—all classes that a trademark proprietor wishes to renew can be renewed at once.

However, it is important to note that these measures mean that a refusal issued with respect to one class would also delay the acceptance of the other classes filed within the same application. Furthermore, there are no provisions currently in place to allow the division of a registered mark. This would make it difficult for a trademark proprietor to undertake a partial transfer of the trademark in question.

With the implementation of this new measure, Laos has now joined the ranks of other ASEAN countries such as Singapore, the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Brunei, where multi-class applications are accepted. This measure is expected to bring Laos closer to the international standards followed by most IP regimes and will allow trademark owners to better devise their filing strategy in accordance with their requirements.

This article was first published in INTA Bulletin on August 1, 2016. For further information, please visit http://www.inta.org/INTABulletin/Pages/INTABulletin.aspx