On 27 May 2013, the Director-General of the Ministry of Science and Technology's Department of Intellectual Property, Mr Sitha Phouyavong, spoke at the Lao Consultation Forum on Accession to the Madrid Protocol. In his speech, Mr Phouyavong noted that Laos would need to overhaul its intellectual property administration in preparation for Laos’ participation in the Madrid Protocol system by 2015. It is necessary to protect intellectual property by law to encourage inventiveness and creativity, and to combat intellectual property rights infringement and illegal business practices. This is one of the issues the Lao Government will have to tackle in addressing its poverty reduction plans by the year 2020.
The Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks, or Madrid Protocol, is an agreement for a system that facilitates the international registration of trademarks through one application which can cover more than one country. Under the Madrid Protocol, trademark owners can obtain a single “International Registration” designating some or all of the member countries, instead of filing separate national applications in each country. If none of the member countries objects to the International Registration, the trademark owners will not have to hire attorneys in each country to assist them with the registration process. This typically results in significant cost-savings. Moreover, an International Registration can be maintained, renewed and assigned through a single filing with the World Intellectual Property Organisation (“WIPO”), resulting in further cost-savings throughout the life of the registration.