The year 2016 has seen the number of trademark registrations increase dramatically in Cambodia. A total of 4,685 trademarks have been granted registration by the Cambodian Department of Intellectual Property’s (DIP) registrar, which marks a growth of more than 10% in comparison to the previous year.

One obvious explanation for the growth lies in Cambodia’s accession to the Madrid System for international trademark registration during the course of 2015. This system allows a brand owner to achieve trademark registration in several countries through one single application, thereby simplifying the process of brand protection for companies whose activities and products are visible internationally. One expected consequence of this system is a noticeable increase in trademark applications filed by international businesses, and these have for a long time represented a large majority of all trademark applications filed in Cambodia.

Yet, accession to the Madrid System alone does not explain the growing number of registered trademarks in Cambodia. Indeed, the greatest share of the increase in trademark registrations in Cambodia comes not from international businesses, but from Cambodian companies: they have gone up 16 percent in a single year. Efforts by the Cambodian authorities to create and promote a healthy intellectual property environment may be starting to bear its first fruits. In addition to the Madrid System for Trademarks it joined in 2015, Cambodia also became member of the Patent Cooperation Treaty in 2016, and is joining the Hague Agreement on international protection of industrial designs in 2017. Greater public awareness as to the usefulness of Intellectual Property Rights is being achieved, as evidenced by examples such as the Cambodia Rice Federation’s plan to register a Cambodian Rice in 2017.

The number of trademark registration in 2016 is to be welcomed not only as an indication of a growing Cambodian intellectual property culture, but also as highly positive sign of increasing business activity in the country. Op Rady, Director of the DIP indicated that while there is no perfect correlation between the number of trademark registrations and the economic activity of a country, the former can partly be a reflection of the latter. Trademarks being an essential element of organized trade in an economy, the more there are the more advanced an economy is likely to be.

[Sources:Phnom Penh Post; Khmer Times]