On July 14, 2023, through Notification No. 50/2023, the Ministry of Planning and Finance introduced the Customs Rules pertaining to trade marks. This framework establishes a legal avenue for enforcing registered trade marks, including ex-officio measures, to combat the influx of counterfeit products into Myanmar. This move is particularly significant due to Myanmar's geographical proximity to countries notorious for trademark infringement, such as China and Thailand. Given this, it is strongly recommended that owners of trade marks take proactive steps to register their marks with the Customs Department.
The Customs Rules consist of 24 rules organized within 7 chapters. There are 8 specific forms that pertain to the processes and prerequisites concerning customs recordation and the submission of customs applications. These applications are aimed at obtaining suspension orders against suspicious goods that involve counterfeit marks. These goods are either already imported into, or in the process of being imported into, the territory of Myanmar.
Trade mark rights holders or their representatives can apply for customs recordation at the Customs Department. Once the application meets the requirements, the Customs Department will notify the applicant of the application's acceptance within 15 days of receiving the customs application. The customs recordation remains valid for a period of 2 years starting from the acceptance date of the application. Renewal can be requested up to 30 days before the expiration date. Amendments and withdrawals of customs recordation are also available. The official fee for customs recordation is not yet known.
The Custom Department can issue a suspension order against suspicious goods which are either imported, in the process of being imported, or intended for import into the territory of Myanmar. The application for a suspension order can be submitted electronically or not. The confirmation of the application's acceptance for a suspension order is provided within 30 days of the application date if all requirements are met. If the application is approved, a security bond set by the Director General must be paid within 5 working days. Failure to do so will result in the rejection of the suspension order application.
Certain goods/cargoes are not subject to the regulations under the Customs Rules: (a) De-minimis goods, (b) Transshipment cargo, (c) Reshipment cargo, (d) Retention cargo, (e) Transit trade cargo, and (f) Goods permitted for emergency import by the government for the public's benefit.
If a customs application has been recorded, the Customs Department can exercise ex officio authority and issue a suspension order upon detecting suspicious goods at entry ports. Given this, applicants are not required to file for a suspension order but simply to pay a bond within 15 days of receiving notification from the Customs Department. This maintains the suspension order and enables further action under the new Trade Mark Law. Failure to comply will result in the cancellation of the suspension order.
For this reason, it is advised that trade mark owners pursue customs recordation for their registered marks with the Customs Department to prevent the importation of counterfeit goods.
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