Provides advice on IPR protection, including information on the registration of patents and trademarks.
Granting patents is based on a first-to-file (or first-to-invent, depending on the country), first-in-right basis. Similarly, registering trademarks is based on a first-to-file (or first-to-use, depending on the country), first-in-right basis, so investors should consider how to obtain patent and trademark protection before introducing products or services to the local market. It is vital that companies understand that intellectual property is primarily a private right and that the U.S. government cannot enforce rights for private individuals in the Kyrgyz Republic. It is the responsibility of the rights-holders to register, protect, and enforce their rights where relevant, retaining their own counsel and advisors. Companies may wish to seek advice from local attorneys or IP consultants who are experts in national law. The U.S. Commercial Service can provide a list of local lawyers upon request. The U.S. Embassy in Bishkek maintains a list of lawyers for the convenience of American citizens abroad.
While the U.S. government stands ready to assist, there is little we can do if the rights-holders have not taken these fundamental steps necessary to securing and enforcing their IP in a timely fashion. In no instance should U.S. government advice be seen as a substitute for the responsibility of a rights-holder to promptly pursue its case. In many cases international firms have successfully utilized Kyrgyz law to address IPR violations.
It is always advisable to conduct due diligence on potential partners. A good partner is an important ally in protecting IP rights. Potential investors should consider carefully, however, whether to entrust registration of IP rights to a partner. Doing so may create a risk that the partner will list itself as the IP owner and fail to transfer the rights should the partnership end. Projects and sales in the Kyrgyz Republic require constant attention.
It is also recommended that small and medium-size companies understand the importance of working together with trade associations and organizations to support efforts to protect IP and stop counterfeiting. There are a number of these organizations, both Kyrgyz Republic and U.S.-based. These include:
- The U.S. Chamber and local American Chambers of Commerce
- National Association of Manufacturers (NAM)
- International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA)
- International Trademark Association (INTA)
- The Coalition Against Counterfeiting and Piracy
- International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (IACC)
- Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)
- Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO)
In any foreign market companies should consider several general principles for effective protection of their intellectual property. For background, please link to our article on Protecting Intellectual Property and Stopfakes.gov or contact ITA’s Office of Intellectual Property Rights Director, Stevan Mitchell at Stevan.Mitchell@trade.gov.