The Ministry of Commerce’s Department of Intellectual Property (IP) Rights has recorded a significant increase in domestic and international brand registrations, totalling 120,000 alongside seven Geographical Indication (GI) brands. This move underscores the ministry’s commitment to safeguarding IP rights, thereby reinforcing the competitive standing of the Kingdom’s corporations and smaller firms.

According to Suon Vichea – department director and head of the secretariat of the National Committee for Intellectual Property Rights (NCIPR) – the seven native GI brands include Kampot pepper, Kampong Speu palm sugar, Koh Trong pomelo, Mondulkiri wild honey, Kampot-Kep salt, Takeo crayfish, and Kampot-Kep fish sauce.

He spoke of this achievement last weekend during the sixth business dialogue on intellectual property rights management and trade.

Vichea further expounded on the expansive nature of intellectual property rights, which span categories like trademarks, copyright, patents, utility model certificates and industrial designs, among others.

“In essence, business operations entail the application of intellectual property rights, such as branding a product or service, to distinguish it from competitors in the market,” he elucidated.

Continuing on the importance of intellectual property rights, Vichea stated that in the realm of economic and trade rivalry, accentuating protection and benefits of these rights is crucial for driving the competitive edge of each enterprise. This is achieved through exclusive rights to use intellectual property and transferring ownership or permitting its use under licensing agreements.

Sharing a practical perspective, Chan Sitha, proprietor of well-known fish sauce manufacturing firm E Chei Ngov Heng Food Production of Kampot, commented on June 26 that obtaining IP rights for his firm’s products had been a mark of honour. It validates their quality, legal protection and immunity against brand fraud.

“I advocate for registering IP rights for the products we manufacture. It fosters innovation and the creation of new products and business models linked to IP rights protection,” he said.

Notably, Cambodia ensures protection for IP rights owners and adherence to World Trade Organisation (WTO) norms, which the Kingdom joined in 2004. The government has enacted several laws pertaining to IP rights. This includes the trademark law and acts of dishonest competition (2002), the Law on Copyright and Related Rights (2003), the Law on Patents, Utility Model Certificates and Industrial Designs (2003), the Law on Seed Management and Plant Breeder’s Rights, and the Law on Geographical Indication (2014).

Currently, the NCIPR is devising a national policy on IP rights. Consisting of 18 ministries, the committee is focusing on the integration of IP rights in education institutions through tailored curricula for various educational levels, including universities and institutions related to technology, health sciences and engineering.

This endeavour marks another stride in Cambodia’s mission to foster a fair and innovative business landscape.