The Council of Ministers has approved a draft law aimed at protecting the patent rights of traditional Cambodian products, which if violated could be met with a fine of up to $5,000 and a five-year jail term.
The law on geographical indication (G.I.), a status given to protect reputable goods that originate from a specific region, aims at maintaining national identity and “protecting the intellectual property of producers and operators while protecting consumers,” the Council of Ministers said in a statement.
According to a copy of the draft law obtained Monday, a person found to have falsely advertised the sale of G.I. products such as Kampot pepper and Kompong Speu raw sugar can be met with a fine ranging between 1 million (about $250) and 20 million riel (about $5,000) and one to five years in jail.
The law does not stipulate what would constitute a maximum penalty.
“The aim of the law is to manage the registration, acknowledgement and protection of G.I. products in Cambodia,” the law states.
In order to be considered a G.I. product “the relevant group of producers, institutions and individuals must form an association based on the geography and the product itself,” the draft law states, adding that “The G.I. association must be acknowledged by competent authorities and the rules of that organization must be upheld by the Ministry of Commerce.”
Var Roth San, director of the intellectual property unit at the Ministry of Commerce, said he expected the law to be passed by the National Assembly in less than three months and that it would cover agricultural products, handicrafts, and other products.
Mr. Roth San said the law would hopefully encourage farmers in areas where G.I. products are grown as their goods would be protected.
In April 2010, Kampot pepper and Kompong Speu palm sugar became the first Cambodian products to receive the World Trade Organization-supported G.I. status. Mr. Roth San said five more products could be added to the list, including silk from Banteay Meanchey province, fish paste from Siem Reap and durian from Kampot.