Cambodian intellectual property (January, 2020)

Since Cambodia's 2004 accession to the World Trade Organization, Cambodia adopted several laws regulating intellectual property rights.

Despite being in the early phases of development, the laws have established rather efficient mechanisms for registering and enforcing significant intellectual property rights. Neglecting or delaying the registration of intellectual property assets might result in significant financial consequences over time.


The "Law on Marks, Trade Names and Acts of Unfair Competition (Trade Mark Law)" enacted in 2002 was the inaugural legislation in Cambodia aimed at safeguarding intellectual property rights (IPR). According to the Law, the only way to obtain the right to use trademarks is by registering them (Article 3). If the applicant wants to have priority in registering a mark, they must include a declaration claiming priority based on a previous national or regional application filed by them or their predecessor in any member country of the Paris Convention (Article 6). The Law also outlines the procedures for registration, invalidation, and removal of marks, as well as the regulations regarding collective markings, licensing of marks, trade names, infringement and available remedies, border measures, and assignment or change in ownership.


The 2003 "Law on Copyright and Related Rights" was established to grant authors and performers the rights to safeguard their literary works, cultural performances, performers, phonogram producers, and broadcasts by broadcasting organizations. The aim is to ensure a fair and lawful utilization of these cultural products (Article 1).


The "Law on the Patents, Utility Model Certificates and Industrial Design" was enacted on January 22, 2003. It offers legal safeguard for patents that have been issued, utility model certificates, and registered industrial designs in Cambodia, as stated in Article 1.

A "patent" refers to the legal right granted to safeguard an innovation, whereas a "invention" is a concept conceived by an inventor that enables the practical resolution of a particular problem in the realm of technology. An innovation can be defined as a product or process, as stated in Article 4. An invention is eligible for a patent if it satisfies three criteria: novelty, inventive step, and industrial applicability (as stated in Article 5).

According to Article 10, the inventor has the exclusive right to a patent. To apply for a patent, the inventor must submit an application to the Ministry in charge of industry (MIME) and pay the required application fee, as stated in Article 16.

Upon the registrar's approval of a patent, he is required to:

  • Publicize the grant of the patent by publishing a reference to it. Provide the applicant with a certificate and a copy of the patent to acknowledge the grant. Maintain a record of the patent. Offer copies of the patent to the general public as per Article 39.
  • A patent will terminate 20 years after the date the patent application was filed. To keep the patent or patent application active, an annual fee must be paid in advance to the Registrar for each year (as stated in Article 45 and 46).

Utility Model Certificates

A utility model certificate is awarded to safeguard a utility model that is both novel and industrially applicable, and may pertain to a product or process (as per Article 69). Article 71 allows for the pursuit of utility model certificates when the invention lacks an inventive step.

The utility model certificate will automatically expire, with no option for renewal, on the 7th anniversary of the application filing date (Article 73).

Prior to the granting or denial of a patent, an individual seeking a patent has the option to change their application into an application for a utility model certificate, or vice versa. However, this conversion can only be done once and is governed by Article 75 and 76.

Industrial Design

According to Article 89 of this Law, an industrial design refers to any combination of lines or colors, three-dimensional form, or material that offers a unique appearance to a product of industry or handicraft and can be used as a template for creating similar products. An industrial design is eligible for registration provided it meets the requirement of novelty, as stated in Article 91.

An invention will be deemed as new if it has not been made known to the public, in any location worldwide, within the 12 months leading up to the day when the application for registration was filed or the priority date (as defined in Article 92).

The registration of an industrial design requires submitting an application to the MIME and paying the corresponding application fee, as stated in Article 95. Persons who are not the registered owner of an industrial design in Cambodia must obtain the agreement of the owner in order to make, sell, or import goods having the registered design (as stated in Article 105 and 106). An industrial design registration is valid for a duration of 5 years starting from the day the application for registration is filed. Registration can be renewed for two more consecutive periods of five years (as stated in Article 109).

Geographical Indication

The Geographical Indication (GI) Law was enacted on January 20, 2014. According to the GIs Law, a Geographical Indication (GI) refers to a unique name, symbol, or sign that is used on specific products and is linked to a particular place. The quality or reputation of these commodities is directly connected to their geographical origin.

A GI cannot be registered under the following circumstances:

  • The act goes against laws, rules, morality, religion, good custom, or public order.
  • It has the capacity to deceive or puzzle the public regarding the attributes, nature, quality, location of origin, production process, or purpose of the goods.
  • It is regarded as a generic phrase.

In contrast to the former legislation on GI registrations, which provided protection for a mere 10 years from the date of filing, the new law ensures that a registered GI is protected from the filing date until any cancellation is enacted.

Integrated circuits

The Ministry of Industry and Handicraft in Cambodia has released a Prakas to regulate and safeguard the registration of layout-designs of integrated circuits. According to the Prakas, an Integrated Circuit is a product that is either in its final form or an intermediate form. It consists of elements, with at least one being an active element, and has interconnections that are integrally formed in or on a piece of material. The purpose of an Integrated Circuit is to perform an electronic function. Layout Design is the arrangement of elements in a three-dimensional manner, where at least one element is active, and includes the interconnections of an integrated circuit. It can also refer to the three-dimensional arrangement specifically designed for manufacturing an integrated circuit.

An integrated circuit's layout design can be officially registered with MISTI, along with other intellectual properties such as patents, utility models, and industrial design. In order to qualify for registration, the design must not have been previously commercially exploited or subjected to commercial exploitation anywhere in the globe for a duration of no more than two years. Furthermore, the creation must be unique, showcasing the intellectual labor of its inventor and not frequently available among other designers and manufacturers of integrated circuits after its inception.

Upon registration, the protection for integrated circuit layout designs is conferred for a duration of ten years. Nevertheless, in order to ensure the registration remains valid, an annual payment must be made.