The deadline for Cambodia to enforce copyright laws and begin accepting patents has been extended from Sunday to 2013, Cambodia’s chief intellectual property expert Var Roth San said Friday.
The extension, which was granted on Nov 29 by the World Trade Organization to Cambodia and other least developed countries, will mean that people remain able to use affordable counterfeit textbooks and CDs, said Var Roth San, director of the intellectual property department at the Ministry of Commerce.
Cambodia may also be in a good position to attract pharmaceutical companies in the new year, because as of Sunday many countries such as India and Brazil will no longer be allowed to produce generic drugs and then export them.
As a least developed country, Cambodia will still be able to produce generic drugs until 2013.
“They will still be allowed to make the drugs here but not use the brand name,” he said. “Cambodia has never registered a patent here so there is opportunity for firms looking for a place to make drugs such as those for HIV.”
He said several drug firms have approached the government about relocating here.
Var Roth San said Cambodia is protecting trademarks. Twenty thousand trademarks have been registered with his department and about 30 trademark complaints are investigated a year, he said.
Two weeks ago, Coca-Cola asked the department to crackdown on Hello Cola, which uses the same colors and distinctive wave logo that Coke has registered. “We know who the maker is and we are going to call them in to discuss,” Var Roth San said. Last week, a Siem Reap store called 7-Bright, which had signs found to violate the trademark of popular US convenience store chain 7-Eleven, agreed to change its logo, he said.
Cambodia and the US agreed in 1996 that Cambodia would sign an agreement compelling Cambodia to enforce foreign copyrights automatically, but Cambodia is way past deadline to sign it, he said.
“The US comes to remind us,” he said. “They could enforce sanctions on us if, for example, they found five [counterfeit] CD factories here.”
The US Embassy said it was not immediately able to comment.