The Certification Mark, HBS Law

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The Ministry of Commerce (MoC) has introduced a procedure to register, protect and manage a new type of mark in Cambodia called a Certification Mark (CM) . The CM can be a name, sign, logo or the combination of signs indicating that the goods and/or services in connection with which the CM is used are certified by the owner of the CM (i.e. the entity setting and certifying such standards) in respect of origin, quality, accuracy, materials, mode of manufacturing or performance of services, and other distinct characteristics. For example, the European Commission’s mark CE indicates a product complies with safety, health or environment requirements set by the European Commission.

The purpose of this new Prakas (Prakas No. 293 dated 30 August 2016 on Procedure for the Registration and Protection of Certification Marks) is to protect consumers and producers through the enforcement of a Certification Marks’ system so as to indicate to the public and consumers the characteristics, quality, condition and standard of goods or services covered by the CM.

The application for the registration of a CM shall be made on the application form in Khmer or English, and submitted to the Department of Intellectual Property Rights (DIPR) with certain documents, including the following:

  1. Proof of legal entity of the applicant;
  2. An oath by the applicant not to compete with the certified goods or services;
  3. Proof that applicant is competent to certify goods or services for which the CM is registered (under the applicant entity’s regulations governing the use of CM);
  4. Other regulations set out in the application form or by law;
  5. For foreign application, an application for registration or the registration certificate of CM from the country of origin;
  6. Notarised Power of Attorney if submitted through agent; and
  7. The registration fee (existing trademark fee until new fee determined by MoC).

As indicated above, Cambodia also allows the registration of foreign certification marks as long as the applicant complies with all the requirements of this Prakas and has been legally registered under the law of the country of origin.

After the registration, the CM owner will acquire the exclusive right over the use of the CM. Any use by others shall require permission from the CM owner. The registered CM is valid for 10 years from the date of filing the application, same period as an ordinary trade mark. The CM owner shall report annually to the DIPR regarding the process of certification and provide a list of covered certified products or services, otherwise the certification mark is subject to cancellation by DIPR.

This Prakas also concludes with some detailed provisions regarding modification of CM and also complaint, invalidation and cancellation of CM. In fact, under Article 20 of the Law on Marks, Trade Names and Acts of Unfair Competition 2002, interested parties can file a complaint to oppose the registration of a CM to the MoC (within 90 days from the date of publication of registration), based on any grounds as stated in this present Prakas, or under the Law on Marks, Trade Names and Acts of Unfair Competition.

However, it is hoped that this new registration system will provide a mechanism for producers to declare the standard of their products through clear and concise CM and, in turn, consumers can easily recognize the product they are looking for as well as ascertaining its true standard.

This article was written by Yos Samnoek (Legal Adviser) and Peter Mewes (English Solicitor and Senior Consultant) from HBS Asia. If you are also interested in sharing your business-related articles with B2B Cambodia, please send us a message to adolfo@cambodiapocketguide.com