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Vanity plate registration to protect trademarks

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A car with a personalised number plate is seen in Phnom Penh on February 3. Hean Rangsey

Vanity plate registration to protect trademarks

The Ministry of Public Works and Transport and the Ministry of Commerce have been developing a system for the automatic purchase of personal vehicle registration numbers that can automatically verify and resolve trademark related issues in order to promote collection of non-tax revenue.

Chhuon Vorn, director-general of the General Department of Land Transport, told The Post on June 2 that the cooperation between the two ministries would prevent the issuance of special license plates for unauthorised customers that may affect the intellectual property rights of a company which has properly registered related trademarks.

Vorn said that in the past the ministry had also given special licence plates to customers for personal use, which led to protests. But now the transport ministry is asking for cooperation with the commerce ministry to make a database of all of the registered trademarks in Cambodia to protect those companies.

“If anyone requests a name that is already registered, it won’t be allowed. We have to protect and prioritise these companies first. There are tens of thousands of trademarks registered with the commerce ministry. If we give them to people randomly, it will affect those brands,” said Vorn.

However, Vorn said that as a first step the transport ministry will select only well-known trademarks to coordinate on with the commerce ministry. The commerce ministry has requested at least one month to discuss plans with the ministry leadership before reaching a decision.

According to Vorn, the transport ministry has already cooperated with the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts and the Ministry of Tourism to protect the names of historical sites and tourist resorts.

The transport ministry does not provide customers with the ability to register personal special numbers using the names of historical sites or names of tourist resorts.

But ordinary citizens can also request to register their own special number in the name of their store, in addition to well-known companies and names of historical sites and resorts across the country.

Commerce ministry spokesman Pen Sovicheat said the two ministries’ working groups were working together to review and coordinate on the technical issues and legal aspects in order to effectively protect ownership of intellectual property.

The protections are found in articles of the trademark law about dishonest competition, as well as other relevant provisions on trademark registration.

Sovicheat said this cooperation needs to be carried out in accordance with the applicable intellectual property laws and regulations in force and will effectively protect the ownership of registered trademarks and the contents stated in the law.

“Therefore, it’s required for the prevention of violations of registered trademarks and proprietary property which has legal rights,” he said.

According to Sovicheat, at present there are more than 11,000 registered brands. These trademarks are protected for their owner in accordance with the law after they go through the proper trademark registration procedures.

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