Penalties for trademark violations to be enforced

Pamela G. Knowles

Long overdue penalties for trademark violations and unregistered e-commerce sales will finally be imposed, the ministries of Economy and Finance and Commerce announced yesterday.

Failure to keep annual records or register changes to business activities will result in a fine of approximately $500, while forging documents required to register a business will result in a fine of about $250, according to an inter-ministerial prakas (directive).

Firms failing to send financial statements to the Ministry of Commerce will face a fine of $250 and companies that do not re-register trademarks will have to pay around  $50 in fines. The largest fine – about $2,500 – will be imposed on e-commerce firms that perform transactions without permission.

“The Ministry of Commerce has issued a separate proclamation stating that the ministry will start imposing fines on… offences from May 26,” a statement said.

The announcement follows a Ministry of Commerce investigation into a Tesla Motors-branded establishment on Russian Boulevard on Tuesday.

Social media posts about the business went viral online earlier this year, leading some to believe that US billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s electric car company was going to start selling vehicles in Cambodia.

In addition to using two versions of the Tesla Motors logo, the establishment also prominently displayed a billboard with the Model 3.

However, Ministry of Commerce records revealed that the only registered company bearing a similar name as the company was “Tesla Industries Co”, which was registered on July 3, 2012.

“Information was provided to the company to register Tesla’s trademark and car brand with the Ministry of Commerce and apply for a trademark permit with the capital’s administration before being allowed to continue legally conducting business,” the ministry said.

A legal expert told Khmer Times that while it is not a trademark violation to use “Tesla” as the name of a registered company because Nikolai Tesla was a prominent figure, it is illegal to use the name when selling cars because it may mislead consumers.

Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) was a Serbian-American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer and futurist best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current electricity supply system.

Chapter 1 of the Law Concerning Marks, Trade Names and Acts of Unfair Competition does not consider companies that mislead the public or share branding identical to other organisations to have valid registration.

“It is completely legal for the company to do anything other than sell electric cars with the Tesla name and logo as long as it is legally registered. Another electric car company, Nikolai, has also attached itself to Tesla’s legacy in a similar fashion. But using an image of Tesla Motors’ most popular models alongside the logos is a clear violation of international treaties about intellectual property rights and obviously misleading to the public if, in fact, the company is the one mentioned in the business registrations,” the law states.


  • Tags: trademark violations, unregistered e-commerce

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