What are the causes of counterfeiting and piracy in Laos?
Laos receives a lot of infringing goods from its neighbour countries like China and Vietnam. The lack of border enforcement is also a prime reason for the existence of counterfeit goods.
Which are the goods that most often face counterfeiting and piracy in Laos?
Drugs and food items are the goods that most often face counterfeiting and piracy in Laos.
Does Laos have a well-established framework for the enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs)?
What are the specific laws/order/rules laid down in Laos for the enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights?
They are as follows:-
The Lao IP Law, approved by the National Assembly of Laos on November 15, 2017
The Penal Code No.26/NA was adopted by the National Assembly of Laos on May 17, 2019
The Law on Drugs and Medical Devices of 2011
The Law on Business Competition of 2015
The Law on Investment Promotion of 2016
The Customs Law, 2005
The Property Law, 1990
The Decree on Trade Competition (2004)
The Decree on Patent, Petty Patent and Industrial Design, 2002
What are the different types of IPRs protected by IPR enforcement in Laos?
Trademarks, industrial designs, copyright, plant varieties, and patents are the different types of IPRs protected by IPR enforcement in Laos.
What are the general IPR enforcement obligations in Laos?
Copyright and TM protection are automatic; however, registration is preferred. For all other kinds of IPR, registration is a must, like patents, petty-patents, GIs.
What are the essential to-dos before an IP rights holder initiates the enforcement proceedings?
Strong evidence is required to proceed with any enforcement action. Conducting a market survey or investigation into specific shops is necessary to collect evidence for filing the complaint.
Is there any limitation period for filing an infringement action?
Which of the following IPR enforcement channels is/are available in Laos?
A) Government Authorities - Yes
B) Police Officials - Yes
C) Judiciary - Yes
) Customs - Yes
Are civil actions available for the enforcement of IPRs?
Is the IP rights holder required to present reasonable evidence to support his claims of infringement against the opposing party in civil litigation?
Which of the following types of civil remedies is/are available in Laos?
A) Injunctions - Yes
B) Monetary Compensation - Yes
C) Raids – Yes; but only after a formal complaint is submitted to the relevant authorities —the Ministry of Industry and Commerce or the Lao Economic Police under the Ministry of Public Security - depending on the nature of the infringement of each specific IPR.
D) Seizures - Yes
E) Destruction - Yes
Are there any other civil remedies available in Laos than the ones mentioned above? If yes, then kindly explain in brief.
Warnings, withdrawal of business licenses for repeat offenders, payment of infringement action, and legal costs.
What is the approximate timeline of civil litigation related to IPR enforcement in Laos?
It is usually a lengthy process.
What happens if an IP rights holder abuses the enforcement measures in civil litigation?
Are there any disadvantages of civil litigation in Laos? If yes, then kindly give 2-3 points?
Civil litigation in Laos is costly and unpredictable.
Is criminal prosecution available in Laos for the enforcement of IPRs?
Is the IP rights holder required to present reasonable evidence to support his claims of infringement against the opposing party in criminal prosecution?
Which is the responsible authority in Laos corresponding to the types of criminal remedies available? Also, mention the imprisonment term and the monetary fine.
A) Responsible Authority: For enforcement: The Peoples Court, the Public Prosecutors Office, the Economic Arbitration Offices, the Custom Offices, the Economic Policies, and the Market Control Taskforce. Other agencies for coordinating enforcement are: The Department of IP, Standardization and Metrology of Science, Technology and Environment Agency & the Branch Office of the Science Technology, and the Environment Agency, at the provincial level.
B) Imprisonment Term – 01 to 03 years of imprisonment, or re-education without deprivation of liberty.
C) Monetary Fine - Article 288 of the Penal Code provides criminal sanctions for manufacturing and trading counterfeit goods, including imprisonment of 03 months to 02 years, and fines ranging from LAK 5 million (approx. USD 568) to LAK 10 million (approx. USD 1,136). If the offense is committed repeatedly as part of an organized group or if it causes substantial damage, the offender can be punished with imprisonment of 01 to 03 years and a fine ranging from LAK 10 million (approx. USD 1,136) to LAK 50 million (approx. USD 5,680).
Are there any other criminal remedies available in Laos than the ones mentioned above? If yes, then kindly explain in brief.
What happens if an IP rights holder abuses the enforcement measures in criminal prosecution?
Are there any disadvantages of criminal prosecution in Laos? If yes, then kindly give 2-3 points?
Criminal prosecution in Laos is costly and time consuming.
Are there any alternative dispute resolution mechanisms which allow parties to resolve their dispute out of court?
Generally, dispute resolution can be undertaken by submitting a complaint to the Department of Intellectual Property, which then acts as a mediator.
Are border control measures (customs) available in Laos for the enforcement of IPRs?
Is the IP rights holder required to present reasonable evidence to the customs authority/department to support his claims of infringement against the opposing party/importer of counterfeit goods?
What are the remedies available under border control measures (customs) in Laos?
The remedies available under border control measures (customs) in Laos include the payment of damages or subject to criminal sanctions, which may depend on the nature of each case.
Who must bear the costs of customs intervention during enforcement?
The IP rights holder must bear the costs of customs intervention during enforcement.
What happens if an IP rights holder abuses the enforcement measures in Custom Recordal of IPRs?
Which are the best practices for enforcement of IPRs in Laos?
Both civil and criminal alternative are fine, but there is a need of a more comprehensive IP Law in Laos to meet the existing and future obligations under various international treaties.
Are there any risks involved in the enforcement of IPRs in Laos? If yes, then kindly give 2-3 points.
The custom recordal is not a very viable option due to lack of infrastructural development and proper administrative directions.