Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh opened a two-day seminar on intellectual property rights Thursday, emphasizing Cambodia’s commitment to protecting trademarks and copyrights.
“The Kingdom of Cambodia attaches high respect to policies and laws on protecting intellectual property rights and considers them as instruments in the economic, social, scientific, and technological short- and long-term development strategy of the country,” Cham Prasidh told participants of the seminar, organized by the World Intellectual Property Organization.
Four WIPO officials were to address seminar participants on topics including protecting patents and international obligations in protecting copyrights.
Intellectual property rights are still relatively new to Cambodia, where pirated videos and compact discs are widely available. The country is a member of the WIPO and more than 10,000 trademarks have been registered at the Commerce Ministry.
One legal analyst agreed the government has made progress in registration but he said problems remain. Unlike in western countries, where one agency is responsible for issuing trademarks and patents, he said, Cambodia’s Industry, Commerce, Culture and Information ministries all register copyrights, creating a so-called “wild west” atmosphere.
The commerce minister said a special committee established in February will coordinate between the various ministries.
It met for the first time last week to discuss how to divide intellectual property registration responsibilities among the ministries, he said.
In the past several alleged trademark infringements have been solved through negotiation. Last month for the first time a dispute over a patent was heard in court.
Samart is appealing a ruling that its main competitor MobiTel has exclusive rights to the use of a prepaid scratch phone card. Samart General Manager Somchai Lertwisettheerakul said the appeal hearing, scheduled for Thursday, had been postponed until early next week.
(Additional reporting by Debra Boyce)
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