Aug 20, Colombo: Sri Lanka's Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen announced that the accession of the Madrid Protocol would be completed by August 2018.
The Minister said an eminent legal personality and a time-honored expert in Intellectual Property (IP) was appointed to lead the country's historic accession to the international trademark system called the Madrid Protocol and the accession is slated to be completed by August next year.
Minister Bathiudeen on 18 August has appointed new members to the Intellectual Property Advisory Commission of Sri Lanka (IPACSL), which is the guiding mechanism advising the National Intellectual Property Office under the Minister of Industry and Commerce on matters on IP & patents and their future direction.
The Minister has appointed Dr JM Swaminathan, Attorney at Law to head the IPACSL and make preparations for the accession to the international brand protection system.
Sri Lanka's Madrid Protocol accession will open doors for the country's brands to register their trademarks in a single filing across multiple jurisdictions, activated at the same time, and affords strong IP protection for Lankan brands at global level for the first time.
Addressing the members of the Commission, Minister Bathiudeen thanked Dr Swaminathan for his contribution to the development of Sri Lanka's intellectual property and directed the newly appointed head of IPACSL to speed up the process for accession.
"I direct you to focus on clearing any pending backlogs, fast-tracking the Madrid Convention and amendments to Copyright laws so that our entire IP gathers speed for development," he said.
"I thank World Intellectual Property Organization for its support on Madrid Convention. We shall achieve Madrid by August 2018, if things go according to plans. The Unity Government aims to develop our knowledge economy and also exports to greater levels and IP plays a key role in it," the Minister noted.
The new Chairperson promised to render the commission's best efforts to clear all pending backlogs and upgrade the present legal framework in par with international standards.
"Especially, my priority is to prepare our National Intellectual Property Office (NIPO) and make it more efficient towards the adoption of Madrid Standards, in a year's time. Earlier we planned to achieve this by the end of this year but due to heavy load at NIPO, we are calling for a little more time," Dr. Swaminathan said adding that the Trademark Application processing will be speeded up.
"My immediate focus is to ensure that Sri Lanka will implement the Madrid Convention at its earliest possible opportunity. We are also focusing on amending the Copyright Laws so that latest digital property rights and laws are integrated. Sri Lanka's digital property changes will be along the lines of the most modern digital laws in the world at this moment- the European Commission that is.”
Dr. Swaminathan, a longstanding advisor and a former Chairperson of IPACSL holds LLB (Ceylon), LLM, M. Phil. (Colombo and LLD (Honoris Causa) Degrees and is an Attorney-at-Law and in the legal profession for over 50 years.
In addition to Dr. Swaminathan, Minister Bathiudeen has appointed Mrs Suganthi Wijayasuriya-Kadirgamar (Senior Partner F. J. & G. de Saram), Dr Nishantha Sampath Punchihewa (Senior Lecturer in Law-Colombo University), Thilak Kariyawasam (Chairman and Executive Director of Sri Lanka Nature Group), Prof. Ajith P de Alwis (Moratuwa University), and Lakshan Algama Perera (Representative of Exporters Association of Sri Lanka) as members of IPACSL while Geethanjali Ranawaka (Director-General of Intellectual Property) becomes the ex-officio member.
Minister Bathiudeen has made the appointments to the Commission as per Section 162 of Intellectual Property Act No 36 of 2003 which stipulates that "the Minister may constitute an Advisory Commission for the purpose of advising him in relation to the law relating to Copyright, Industrial Designs, Marks, Patents, and unfair competition and any other area or subject of intellectual property."
The IPACSL appointed on 17 August shall end its term on 17 August 2020.
Minister Bathiudeen earlier said that his Ministry has allocated Rs 100 million for work on Sri Lanka's accession to the Madrid Protocol.
He said a collective decision was made in 2015 to proceed to Madrid system with the collaboration of the exporters and the NIPO has already commenced upgrading their IP system so that NIPO systems are Madrid compatible. A complete restructuring program of NIPO is underway, said Minister Bathiudeen.