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Protection Of Small And Medium Enterprises (SMEs) In Myanmar – Trademark



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Introduction

Myanmar has gone through a triple transition:
first, from authoritarian military system to democratic governance,
second, from a centrally directed, closed economy to a
market-oriented and an open one and third, from 60 years of
conflict to peace in the border areas. The country has emerged from
half century of isolation. Myanmar has always been an
agriculture-oriented economy but the government has been laying
building blocks, especially for the development of Small and
Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). SMEs are “smaller than big
business houses in terms of factors such as number of employees,
asset base, annual revenue and the ownership structure”.

The success of SME development depends on various external
factors (namely, policy and regulatory environment, infrastructure,
corruption, access to finance, governance, bureaucratic hurdles,
business development services, among others) and internal factors
(namely, experience, capacity, organizational culture, technology,
among others). From another point of view, the success of SMEs can
be influenced by the following factors: political, economic, social
and technological. However, in Myanmar, there were other factors
that played a role in mismanagement of the SMEs: lack of proper
information as to the number of industries in the country and the
lack of categorization of the industries.

Trademark Protection

Trademarks are signs used to distinguish in
the marketplace the goods or services of one enterprise from those
of other enterprises. They allow the customers to identify a
business as the source or point of origin of a product or service.
Trademarks are the basis to create a
company’s brand and reputation. It helps in creating a
relationship of trust with customers which helps in enabling the
business to establish the loyal clientele and further, embrace the
brand’s goodwill. The exclusive rights granted by the trademark
protection can benefit the SMEs in different ways. The registration
provides exclusive rights to the registered owner to prevent third
parties from marketing identical or similar products or services
under a confusingly similar trademark. Further, it provides a
long-term protection for the owners, subject to renewal. The
proprietors of SMEs in the country can have a potential source of
income by selling, assigning or licensing the associated rights
with the trademarks. The funding institutions shall also easily
facilitate the process for SMEs based on their established
reputation and brand.

The country implemented a new trademarks law recently.
Previously, the penal code defined a trademark as a “mark used
for denoting that goods are the manufactured merchandise of a
particular person”. The scope was narrow because the
definition did not include the marks used for services. There was
no trademark legislation in Myanmar but a practice developed by
which the person purporting to be the owner of the trademark can
make a Declaration of Ownership and register the declaration with
the office of the Register of Deeds and Assurances. The competent
authorities have advised the foreign as well as domestic SMEs doing
their business in Myanmar to follow this practice and register the
trademark in the requisite manner. Moreover, in case of foreign
companies, the owners must appoint a local agent. It is also
advisable to publish a Cautionary Notice in a daily English
language newspaper such as the New Light of Myanmar. Therefore, the
protection of SMEs under the trademark regime of Myanmar, can prove
to be of great importance for the enterprises and the owners.

Patent Protection

It is expensive to innovate. Further, it involves efforts and
manpower to enable any proprietor to innovate and invent. Even
after a strong legislation to protect the patents established in the territory, it
becomes hard for the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) to
innovate and gain a patent over the requisite innovation. However,
in case, such an enterprise gathers the requisite time, efforts and
money to innovate and formulate an innovative product, then the
required protection must be given under the already established
legislation. SMEs competitiveness and national competitiveness are
nearly linked and the policymakers must take the actions to protect
the integrity and efforts of the SMEs.

Conclusion

The significance of global integration for SME development has
been well recognized. With regard to this aspect, policymakers can
serve as communicators and educators, as SMEs are often unaware of
the latest developments in the global markets such as market
demands, trade procedures, product/service standards and
certifications and requirements for their participation in regional
and global value chains. Public financial support may also be
required to develop quality products and services to compete in the
global markets. The Government of Myanmar has attached high
priority to promote industrial estates and Special Economic Zones
(SEZs) to attract investment and promote the production of
competitive semi-manufactured and/or manufactured goods. To be
successful, industrial estates and SEZs will require policies and
programmes to promote and support local SMEs’ participation and
lead to the creation of both new local enterprises and dynamic
business networks and clusters through effective industrial
agglomeration.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.

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