A new Intellectual Property law came into effect in Laos on June 9, 2018 (Law on Intellectual Property No. 30/NA, published in the Lao Official Gazette on May 25, 2018). The law replaces the prior law of December 2011. The principal new features of the law are:
- registrability of 3-dimensional and animated marks;
- introduction of an opposition procedure within sixty days of publication; and
- a 10-year registration term commencing from the filing date (previously 10 years from registration).
The law also provides a lower threshold for criminal enforcement by rights holders, eliminating the requirement to demonstrate “intentional infringement, commercial motivation and harm to persons, the environment or property.” Rights holders now need only show that an alleged infringement was “intentional.” In addition, Customs officers will now have an explicit right to search and seize goods, both imported and exported. This development demonstrates the Laos government’s growing recognition of the importance of IP rights to its economy. We note that Laos became a member of the Madrid Protocol and introduced protection for geographical indications in 2016, commencing an apparent trend towards becoming part of the international economic community.