The registration of trademarks containing the word “Cambodia”, whether as a word or device mark, is often problematic – leading to unnecessary and avoidable rejections. To be clear, such registrations are possible. In fact there are more than 70 on the Registry, covering a broad range of goods and services.

Our own Abacus IP logo is registered as a trademark, which includes the word Cambodia. A number of examples include:

 

 

Under current law and practice, only Cambodian citizens, residents and companies may register marks with the country’s name in it. Foreign individuals and companies applying for a mark containing the word will be met with a rejection under Article 4(d) of the Trademark Law, which states:

… A mark cannot be validly registered… if it is identical with, or is an imitation of or contains as an element … the name of … any State … unless authorized by the competent authority of that State…

Thus, any foreign applicant should amend their mark to completely remove the country’s name from the mark.

For Cambodian individuals and companies, it is possible to register it under certain conditions. When the “Cambodia” forms only part of the mark, used in conjunction with other word elements, as in the above examples, the mark should be registered with a disclaimer for the word “Cambodia”.

In rarer cases, where “Cambodia” is combined in a mark with one generic term, the mark may be registerable, but only by obtaining the official permission of the Ministry of Commerce for such use, and in connection with one specific good or service. From our research, the only two such cases would be “Cambodia Beer” and “Cambodia Airports”:

                 

 

Obtaining such permission from the Ministry of Commerce is not a routine matter, and only major, nationwide brands are likely to succeed – such as the operator of the country’s airports and largest brewery.

To summarize:

  • foreign companies will not be able to register any mark with the word “Cambodia”
  • local companies and individuals can register such marks, with a disclaimer for “Cambodia”, unless…
  • they are seeking protection for “Cambodia” plus a generic term, specific permission from the Ministry of Commerce will be necessary.

Continue reading more on Cambodian trademark registration.