Strong IP laws will promote economic growth, boost investor confidence

National 2 minutes, 9 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

MODERN, internationally-compatible intellectual property (IP) laws will help promote economic growth and investor confidence in Brunei, government agencies have said.

As Brunei marks “World Intellectual Property Day” on April 26, promoting a strong IP rights framework has been at the heart of many key trade deals.

Free trade agreements like the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) are seen as crucial to diversifying the domestic economy away from oil and gas, as the sultanate tries to boost private sector growth and foster a ‘pro-business’ environment.

Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Dato Paduka Hj Erywan Pehin Dato Pekerma Jaya Hj Mohd Yusof, said before the TPP can be ratified, Brunei will have to accede to the Madrid Protocol for the International Registration of Marks - a key global IP instrument.

The protocol allows a trademark owner to seek registration in any of the countries that have joined the treaty by filing a single application.

“It gives companies and investors confidence that Brunei is a regulated market… There are few laws which we need to upgrade and review in order to ratify (the TPP),” he said.

According to the Brunei Intellectual Property Office (BruIPO), the sultanate has until the end of the year to accede to the protocol, as per its commitment under the ASEAN IP rights Action Plan.

Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand will accede by end 2016, whilst Myanmar has until the end of 2018. BruIPO said Brunei hopes to endorse the treaty “in the coming months” and is currently in advanced stages of preparation.

“IP protection essentially ensures that you secure market share for your unique product and the more SMEs that we have looking to secure this market share and looking to secure profit, the better off the local economy will be,” Shahrinah Yusof Khan, director-general of BruIPO, said in a previous report.

“Whilst proving to have a high level of IP enforcement may help to attract FDI, on the local level, we hope that we can use IP as a business tool to help fuel the growth of our SMEs.”

In the past year, Brunei has also filed its first  application via the Hague System for international registration of designs. Local atelier, Bajoo Boutique, filed the application for their signature _Tutu Kurung _design, after they saw knock-offs of the garments being sold in Kuala Lumpur.

The Hague System allows firms to register up to 100 designs in more than 60 territories through a single international application.

BruIPO said 1,062 foreign trademark applications were filed with the registry in 2015, as well as 71 local trademark applications.

The Brunei Times