Legal & Regulatory

Top Three IPR Mistakes that SMEs Should Avoid in Southeast Asia

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By: South-East Asia IPR SME Helpdesk

A wide range of foreign industries are now looking to Southeast Asia not just to take advantage of an abundance of cheap labor for production of goods for export, but also to tap into new consumer markets formed from a growing middle class population. While these opportunities can lead to substantial returns for Western, including European businesses, via both the production and sales side, the less developed nature of business-related legislation means the dangers of intellectual property (IP) infringement are often great.

There are very few SMEs who would not take the issue of intellectual property rights (IPR) seriously in their business strategies, nevertheless there are some issues that are commonly overlooked and can even lead to commercial disaster. Here we take a look, in no particular order, at the top three IPR mistakes SMEs make.

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Thailand’s New Customs Act: A Relief for Importers and Exporters

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By Dezan Shira & Associates
Editor: Vasundhara Rastogi

In May 2017, the government of Thailand published a new Customs Act B.E. 2560 (2017) in the country’s National Gazette, repealing the outdated and controversial Customs Act B.E. 2469 (1926). The new Act, scheduled to come into force from November 13, 2017, will herald a new era in customs and excise control in Thailand. With an aim to modernize Thailand’s customs law, the revised Act will significantly ease customs procedure and bring transparency in the country’s customs law. The changes will remove ambiguities present in the existing law and bring it closer to the international best practices in line with Thailand’s current free trade agreements. The agents and businesses involved in importing, exporting and the manufacturing of excisable goods in Thailand will greatly benefit from the new law.

Among the most notable changes introduced in the new act are a reduction in incentives and rewards to whistleblowers, clarification of customs offenses and reduction of statutory penalties, elimination of liability presumptions, and the imposition of deadlines for post-clearance audits and appeals, among others. In this article, we take a closer look at the key changes introduced in the new Customs Act, 2017.

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Singapore’s Patent Law: What You Need to Know

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By: South-East Asia IPR SME Helpdesk

Singapore and the EU: a background for SMEs

The Republic of Singapore is a leading global city-state and island country in Southeast Asia, lying off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. As one of the original four ‘Asian Tigers’ Singapore is a world leader in several economic areas, the world’s fourth leading financial centre, and the only Asian country to receive a AAA credit rating from all three major credit rating agencies[1]. Singapore is widely known as one of the freest, most innovative, and most competitive economies in the world. It is also widely accepted as a business friendly trade hub, with the World Bank naming Singapore the easiest place in the world to do business[2]. Out of the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Singapore is Europe’s largest trading partner and 15th largest trading partner worldwide.

The Singaporean Intellectual Property (IP) legal framework is very comprehensive and is generally considered to be one of the most thorough in Asia. Singapore is a member of the following international conventions regulating IP matters[3]:

  • The Madrid Agreement concerning the International Registration of Marks
  • The Patent Cooperation treaty
  • The WIPO Copyright Treaty
  • The NICE Agreement concerning the International Classification of Goods and services
  • The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works

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Singapore’s Inward Re-Domiciliation Regime: What You Need to Know

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By Dezan Shira & Associates
Editor: Vasundhara Rastogi

One of the key amendments to the Singapore Companies Act, the inward re-domiciliation regime came into effect on October 11, 2017. The amendment allows foreign companies to relocate their business headquarters to Singapore instead of setting up subsidiaries, without losing their corporate history or brand identity. This means that a foreign company located outside of Singapore may become a registered Singapore private company limited by shares, domiciled in Singapore and continue its operations under the laws of Singapore; the company need not wind up its business activities and set up a new company in Singapore. Re-domiciliation in Singapore does not create a new legal entity. It also does not affect the property, rights or obligations of the foreign company, or affect any legal proceedings by or against the foreign company.

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Malaysian Labor Contracts: What You Need to Know

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By: Dezan Shira & Associates

Editor: Bradley Dunseith

ASB- Malaysian Labor Contracts (002)

Malaysia continues to be an attractive FDI destination in South East Asia, offering foreign investors a skilled workforce at competitive rates. However, in the regional context, as Chet Scheltema, Regional Director of Dezan Shira & Associates, notes, “historic sensitivity to abusive labor practices, and in some cases combined with the influence of litigious jurisprudence, has led to an environment where foreign investors are advised to tread cautiously and lay a solid foundation for human resources management, lest they run afoul of local labor laws or trigger costly labor disputes. One pillar of this firm foundation is typically a well-crafted employment contract.”

As such, Malaysia as well as some of its fellow members within ASEAN, including Indonesia and Vietnam, distinguish themselves by mandating a formal, written labor contract signed by the parties. When drafted with a strong understanding of Malaysia’s regulatory landscape and labor laws, these formal contracts can serve as an opportunity for foreign investors to establish a firm foundation for human resources management in the country.

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Import and Export Procedures in Laos – Best Practices

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By Bradley Dunseith

Import-and-Export-ASB-Procedures-in-Laos-–-Best-Practices(1)

Officially the Lao Peoples’ Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), landlocked Laos borders China, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. In 2015, Laos exported US$3.81 billion worth of goods and imported US$6.54 billion. Laos’ main export destinations include Thailand, China, Vietnam, India, and Japan. Laos’ top import sources include Thailand, China, Vietnam, South Korea, and Japan. In this article we explain best practices for importing into and exporting out of Laos.

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How to Set Up in the Philippines – New Issue of ASEAN Briefing Magazine

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ASB 2017 issue 02_Cover (002)_resizedThe latest issue of ASEAN Briefing Magazine titled, “How to Set Up in the Philippines“, is out now and available to subscribers as a complimentary download in the Asia Briefing Publication Store.

In this issue of ASEAN Briefing

  • Political, Economic, and Social Introduction to the Philippines
  • Entering the Philippine Market: Comparing Models
  • Corporate Establishment in the Philippines: A Step-by-Step Guide
  • Using Singapore as a Gateway to the Philippines

 

 

 

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IP Protection in the Philippines Automotive Industry

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By: South-East Asia IPR SME Helpdesk

IP Protection in the Philippines Automotive Industry (002)

Although the Philippines has slipped behind other ASEAN nations in automotive market size and though lacking in major domestic brands, the country’s massive exports of electronics and metal goods still make it a significant part of the international automotive supply chain. Currently, over 250 automotive companies operate in the Philippines, with foreign businesses largely represented by Japanese firms. Automotive exports created a net trade surplus of US$ 2.7 billion in 2010 and reached a total market size of US$ 3.5 billion in 2012. For automotive firms, these exports include many humble but critical components such as ignition wiring sets, intake air filters, clutch pedals, and radio receivers. Other exports are more immediately recognizable, including pneumatic tires, lead-acid storage batteries, and transmissions. Alongside these automotive staples are integrated circuits, the electronic brains which will form a critical part of the worldwide automotive industry’s adoption of self-driving cars. Many of these more sophisticated parts are produced not by automakers themselves but rather by smaller specialized contractors.

While the Philippine intellectual property regime stands head and shoulders above some of its other ASEAN counterparts, automakers or automobile component companies which source their products from the Philippines will still encounter challenges. Enforcement in the Philippines lags behind that of more developed markets, and there are always difficulties inherent in negotiating IP contracts with local partners. Nonetheless, with careful IP protection and a smart IP management strategy SMEs can reap the benefits of the Philippines’ comparative advantage in relative safety. To do so, a company must focus on three key elements: patents for key technology, especially in propulsion systems which will play a central role in international fuel efficiency design competition; semiconductor topography designs (integrated circuit layout-designs) for electronics which will give smart cars eyes and ears to manoeuvre safely and control their components; and copyrights for computer codes which will run on those electronics.

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ASEAN Regulatory Brief: Philippines Green Energy Initiatives, Myanmar Industrial Zone Land Use, and Brunei Companies Act Amendments

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ASEAN_RB_Banner_2017

Philippines: Tax incentives announced for companies going green

The Philippines Board of Investment (BOI) has announced that it is planning to introduce tax incentives for companies going green. The initiative under the Climate Incentives for Manufacturing (CLIMA) program will target firms in the manufacturing sector. To qualify, enterprises should promote energy efficiency and use technology that reduces greenhouse gas emissions. While the exact nature of the incentives are not known, they are likely to be in the form of capital equipment incentives and income tax holidays.

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Trade Fairs in Thailand – Steps to Protect Your Intellectual Property

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By: South-East Asia IPR SME Helpdesk

Trade fairs are now a well-established part of the business calendar in Thailand, particularly in Bangkok, with a number of high-tech industries represented, as well as areas of the creative sector such as furniture and design. Trade fairs provide foreign businesses with the opportunity to present their innovations and ideas to potential business partners and customers, and allow them to learn from and collaborate with other innovators. There is, however, a risk, in that disclosing your innovations to the public leaves you exposed to copying and infringements of your IP.

Infringement of innovations may not necessarily be straightforward ‘counterfeiting’ – i.e. exact product, packaging and brand imitation. It is more likely that competitors could be using, intentionally or otherwise, a certain part of your product or innovation. It is therefore advisable to be as diligent as possible and to get to know competitors’ products well. In the light of this, a practical and realistic approach must be taken when preparing for and attending trade fairs in Thailand. IP owners must also be patient and pragmatic, as it is unlikely that immediate action can be taken against an infringer. There are, however, steps that IP owners can take before, during and after the event to best protect their IP.

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Dezan Shira & Associates

Meet the firm behind our content. Dezan Shira & Associates have been servicing foreign investors in China, India and the ASEAN region since 1992. Click here to visit their professional services website and discover how they can help your business succeed in Asia.

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