In today’s world, trademarks consistently rank as one, if not the most important and most valuable business assets of any company. Trademarks identify the source of the service or product and its quality and good will of the trademark owners.
Mr. Ramakrishna Damodharan, Managing Director of ADIPVEN (M) Sdn. Bhd., a boutique intellectual property firm based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia has seen cases where trademarks being protected vigorously by trademark owners and some of them have been successful.
According to him, it is important to have a proper trademark filing and enforcement strategy from the outset. Trademark rights are provided on country-to-country basis, therefore it is prudent to have an international trademark filing and enforcement strategy and the strategy can be purely a country strategy, such as Malaysia, or a regional strategy such as South East Asian region, or to cater wider protection, on global basis.
Mr. Damodharan has indicated that businesses should always consider conducting trademark searches before they embark on a new product or service in any country. Mr. Damodharan has indicated whilst the searches are regularly by the big corporations, small and medium sized enterprises seldom consider this as it is always considered to be an additional financial burden to them. One of the issues that always come up on trademarks prosecution in Asian countries is that there are countries like China and Indonesia who apply the first-to-file system although most countries in Asia apply the first-to-use system.
China is now considering amending their trademark laws and it is expected to use the first-to-use system in order to prevent Chinese individuals/businesses who are making a quick buck by registering foreign-owned trademarks before the owners file them in China and hoping to sell them back to the rightful owners.
Trademarks are needed to be understood and carefully nurtured in order to make them a money-making machine. As trademarks are private rights, the government will not police infringement on behalf of the trademarks owners and it is the owners’ duty to identify the infringers and enforce their rights. Failure to protect and enforce trademark rights can be hugely detrimental to the owners’ rights.
Last but not least, it must always be remembered that, under the international and country laws, including Malaysia’s own trademark laws, rights which are not claimed are disclaimed.
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