Securing protection for your intellectual property in the South Pacific can often be both challenging and time-consuming. If registration is available (which is not always the case), the registration process varies from country to country and often involves a labyrinth of filing requirements, elderly legislation and “island time”, where an outwardly straightforward process may take several months (even years) to complete.
However, the Intellectual Property Office of Papua New Guinea (“IPOPNG”) has recently unveiled a series of improvements to their www.ipopng.gov.pg website, a move which will assist brand owners interested in protecting their rights in Papua New Guinea (“PNG”).
The IPOPNG website now provides access to a searchable electronic database of PNG trade marks which is hosted by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). Trade mark owners can now conduct direct availability searches prior to filing to help identify potentially conflicting registrations. It is unclear how often the IPOPNG database will be updated, but there is currently a delay of ~3 months for new trade marks being published online, which suggests that some care should be taken when reviewing search results.
Those who currently own trade marks in PNG can also check on the status and scope of existing registrations. The updated website also allows users to download forms and schedules of official fees.
While the changes will not impact upon some of the frustrations experienced by trade mark owners managing portfolio protection in PNG, such as typically long delays in the issuing of certificates of registration, they are certainly a step in the right direction.
PNG’s population exceeds 8 million (almost twice that of New Zealand), and it is potentially a significant market for brand owners. Consequently, it would be prudent for brand owners trading goods or services there to consider seeking protection.