Remarks as prepared by Chargé d’Affaires’ Gwendolyn Cardno at the launch of the Myanmar Intellectual Property Office
10:00 am, October 1, 2020
Honorable Minister Dr. Than Myint, Honorable Minister Dr. Myo Thein Gyi, representatives of the Government of Myanmar, representatives of the World Intellectual Property Organization, Chief Representative of the Japanese International Cooperation Agency, Mr. Noriji Sakakura and Mr. Susumu Iwasaki of the Japanese Patent Office, Mr. Zaw Min Win and the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, associations and members of the Myanmar business community, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your participation in today’s event and support for Myanmar’s efforts to improve legal protections of intellectual property.
On behalf of the United States government, I would like to congratulate the Ministry of Commerce and the Myanmar Intellectual Property Department for opening online services of the Intellectual Property Office and associated website. The opening of an Intellectual Property Office is a major step towards establishing a modern Intellectual Property Right system in Myanmar and an important part of the country’s economic transformation. Today’s virtual opening follows the approvals of the Industrial Design Law, Trademark Law, Patent Law and Copyright Law in 2019. As the government works to bring the Trademark Law into legal effect, we hope this facilitates tens of thousands of trademark applications over the coming months. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has provided technical assistance, training, and materials to support many of these efforts.
A modern trademark system will provide protection against counterfeiters. That protection is important to the many Myanmar and international businesses who have invested in developing brands of quality and credibility. It will also encourage growth of new businesses. It will encourage foreign investment by protecting trademarks for many U.S. businesses in Myanmar. When I talk to my colleagues at the American Chamber of Commerce, they regularly reiterate the importance of a strong Intellectual Property system for growing their businesses in Myanmar and for attracting new U.S. investment.
But a strong Intellectual Property system, especially for trademarks, is not just about large domestic and foreign well-known brands, it is also about growing distinctive, innovative small businesses in Myanmar, some of which, such as Myanmar’s uniquely patterned textile and handicrafts, could benefit from registration as businesses look to go global one day.
We want to encourage all Myanmar and foreign businesses and original trademark owners to file new applications to have trademarks fully recognized to take advantage of substantially strengthened trademark protection in the new Trademark Law. This helps businesses build reputations for quality and reliability that is at the core of growing responsible businesses and creating jobs.
In coordination with other development partners, particularly the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO), USAID’s Transparency and Inclusive Economic Growth Activity has worked with the US Patent and Trademark Office to support the government’s intellectual property protection efforts and has encouraged complementary private sector participation to develop the legislation and systems for effective implementation.
The United States is proud that we have been able to work with the government, Myanmar’s Intellectual and Proprietors’ Association, private sector, and other donor partners, particularly JICA and the WIPO, to see tangible progress in Myanmar’s implementation of a stronger Intellectual Property Right System that is evolving in line with international standards and pragmatically for effective application in the Myanmar context.