Trademark Protection in Maldives
Maldives is one of the very few countries to sway the hearts of many by sheltering a compendium of unique resources and picturesque handicrafts. Though the country is home to rare talents such as its intricate embroidery and coir making, and other traditional and creative works, the extent of protection that it grants for intellectual property is not very formalized. At present, there are no specific laws governing trademarks, copyrights, patents and geographical locations in the country though steps are being taken to bolster the protection granted.
Unlike most countries, the process to protect trademarks in Maldives does not include the same rigmarole of filing, examination and advertisement but is merely on the basis of the publication of a Trademark Cautionary Notice. The Notice has to be published in a local newspaper in English and in the vernacular which is Dhivehi. Since it is just a notice and does not have restrictions on the number of classes, or content, the proprietor is permitted to publish more than one mark belonging to the same proprietor in one trademark cautionary notice. A trademark cautionary notice in general, contains the following elements:
- Name, address, status and nationality of the proprietor
- The category of the mark
- The class the mark falls under Specification of goods and services under the mark
Once the notice has been published, the proprietor can re-publish the notice at a frequency they chose, given that there is no fixed registration or renewal period. In general companies re-publish their cautionary notices every 3 to 5 years.
If a prior user or rights holder comes across the cautionary notice, the onus lies on them to contest the claim of trademark rights of the published proprietor.
In addition to the publication of the cautionary notice, Maldives does recognize the common-law remedy of passing off which can be an effective tool in stopping infringers.
In an effort to improve the condition of intellectual property protection in Maldives, the country is a part of few of the most eminent organizations and Intellectual Property-oriented conventions in the world. It is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and a signatory to the Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) since May 1995. Additionally, it is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) treaties and WIPO Convention since May 2004.
While steps are being taken to formalize the registration and prosecution to align with global systems, the cautionary notice for the moment forms the most vital step in the process of protection of trademarks in the Maldives.