New Intellectual Property Protection Committee established
A new Intellectual Property Protection Committee (IPPC) has been established at the Kuwait Trademark Office (TMO). The IPPC is now the competent authority to receive all complaints related to trademark infringement. The IPPC counts amongst its members the Commercial Control Department (CCD), which carries out raids against suspected shops, and the Criminal Evidence Department (CED), which prepares and issues expert reports on whether confiscated goods are counterfeit or not.
The procedures for filing complaints before the IPPC have simplified matters procedurally. Complaints used to be filed before the Under-secretary for Commercial Control at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI), and it took a long time for the complaints to reach the competent CCD. The previous procedures involved the exchange of formal letters between several departments. The procedure is now more streamlined, with the complaint being filed directly with the IPPC. Once filed, the IPPC will immediately liaise with the relevant CCD and provide guidance on how to proceed with the complaint. It is also possible for the plaintiff to follow up with the relevant CCD directly without having to wait for official correspondence between the different authorities and departments. The committee members also coordinate with each other in several ways, including the creation of a WhatsApp group through which they plan to ensure fast and effective coordinated actions.
The requirements for filing a complaint before the IPPC are simple; only the following documents must be enclosed along with the complaint itself:
- copies of the trademark registration certificates;
- one sample of the counterfeit products and the receipt of purchase;
- the address of the infringer;
- one sample of the genuine products; and
- a power of attorney.
Further, for expensive products, the IPPC is considering excusing the plaintiffs from providing samples of the genuine products. However, one sample of such products will have to be submitted at a later stage to the CED so that it may compile its expert report.
The new measures are an indication that the TMO and associated governmental agencies are giving importance to the fight against counterfeiting, and it is expected that these measures will increase effectiveness and efficiency and deter counterfeiters. The current procedures are much improved compared to the previous procedures, which involved complicated steps. Under the previous procedures, the initial step was the filing of a complaint before the MOCI, notwithstanding that its only function was to accept the complaint and send the file to the competent CCD through formal and lengthy procedures, and then receive the file back from the CCD and send it to the public prosecutor. With the current procedures, the process is much faster as the complaint is now filed before the IPPC, of which the CCD is a member. After the filing of the complaint, the CCD is able to begin working on the complaint almost immediately.
Tarek Abu Mariam, Al Tamimi & Company, Kuwait
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