The Department of Intellectual Property (DoIP), Ministry of Economic Affairs is the responsible agency for the administration and management of intellectual property in the country. The Industrial Property Act of the Kingdom of Bhutan, 2001 and the Copyright Act of the Kingdom of Bhutan, 2001 were enacted to register and grant rights over creation of trademarks, industrial designs, patents and copyrights and related rights. Accordingly, the DoIP generates revenue both in Ngultrums and in Swiss Francs (CHF) by registering and grant of Patent, Industrial Design, Trademark and Copyright and Related Rights.
The revenue generation from registration of trademarks crossed Ngultrum 100 million mark this year. Trademarks of companies and enterprises are distinctive signs, names and symbols or other forms of indications that distinguish goods and services from one another in the marketplace. The protection and enforcement of trademark is of strategic importance to business to grow and become bigger, which in turn creates employment and promotes new products for needy consumers. Trademarks also impart information, which reduces consumer search costs as to the source or sponsorship of a product, or service and promote brand competition leading to higher quality goods in the market.
There are two routes of filing trademark applications in Bhutan; the first route is the National Filing system, which is a direct filing to the DoIP by the applicants. For non-national applicants, they are required to file the applications using the local services of registered Intellectual Property Agents. The second route is the Madrid Filing system, administered at the international level by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The Madrid Filing system, in many ways, facilitates easy filing of trademark applications in a large number of countries, as opposed to filing individually in each country where applicants have potential markets. The later puts undue pressures on the applicants to comply with different administrative requirements, costs for hiring local Agents, and ineffective management of their registrations.
The DoIP registers trademarks for goods, service marks for services and collective marks for collective organizations and cooperatives. Bhutan became a member of the Madrid Filing system in the year 2000, and the DoIP have been receiving increasing foreign trademark applications through this system. The revenue earnings from the trademark registration is deposited directly into Government’s account.
As of June 2018, the total combined revenue generation from both National and Madrid trademark filing stands at Nu. 102.0 million, and the total number of application is 17458. The trademark registration also earns Swiss Francs (CHF) as the cost of filing applications (Fee) when international applications are filed to Bhutan for registration. This contributes to the government exchequer and increases our foreign currency reserves. For instance, of the total revenue earnings, it has generated CHF 1.67 million from the international trademark applications.