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Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

IPOPNG administers the laws under trademark, patent, industrial design and copyright.

Idea, Concept or a Scheme per se cannot be registered with IPOPNG, however, what can be registered is;

  1. How that idea is expressed in the form of literature, music, drama, performance, painting, sculpting, fabrication or other, that product of expression can be considered under Copyright and Neighboring Rights; or
  2. How that idea is demonstrated through a technical function when applied or used in the form of a product, device or process. That technical function can be considered for protection under Patent; or
  3. How that idea is demonstrated through its external feature or design in terms of the shape, pattern, color, line or contours of a product. That external feature or design can be considered for protection under Industrial Design; or
  4. How that idea is demonstrated through the use of a word or image to give it identity when used on a product. That word or image or a combination thereof can be considered for protection under Trade Mark.

So in simple terms, Intellectual Property is about giving recognition to owners of those creative works that result from ideas.

Registration with IPOPNG is dictated by the laws that it administers therefore, there are 3 main registers in which it maintains and accepts applications for registration for and these are;

  1. Trade Mark
  2. Patent and;
  3. Industrial Design

Further details on their registration process and forms can be extracted from their respective web pages.

Copyright does not have a registration system at present because the law allows copyright to have an “Automatic Right” regime. This means that you do not need to come into the office to register but you are required to insert the symbol © or the word “Copyright” and include thereafter the year of publication or disclosure and the name of the author. So for example, in a literature or book, a copyright statement can be written at the bottom of the pages(s) as “Copyright, 2017, Joe Blow, The walk in the park, English Publication House, First Edition”. 

Each IP Area is dictated by the nature or type of the creative work you develop and therefore each IP system that IPOPNG administers is dependent on how best you can identify the nature or type of work that you have created.

To assist you, below is a list of areas in which the IP system that IPOPNG administers covers.

  1. Trade Mark refers to a logo, brand or word or image or a combination of these to give identity to a product or service that is intended for the market.
  2. Copyright refers to the works created through expression in the form of literature, music, performance and art.
  3. Patent refers to scientific inventions that are applied to solve technical problems.
  4. Industrial Design refers to external design of products which improves an existing product’s beauty, use or manufacture.

The time taken to process applications differ from application to application.

Applications that are straight forward and simple, the processing time can take 12 months. For applications that are not straight forward and that which requires alot of communication with the owner, the time can take up to 36 months or more, depending on the efficient transmission of documents between the parties concerned.

Application forms for Patent, Trade Mark and Industrial Design are all available on their respective web pages.

Please click on respective menu bars relating to your area of interest such as Patent, Trade Mark, Copyright or Industrial Design to read about it or download the forms.

IP Right Holders are expected to come up with their own monitoring practices through the use of information or media to enforce their rights in Papua New Guinea.

If an owner, finds that a third party is infringing on his right through use of his product without seeking his consent, he can bring this to the attention of the person infringing his right and request for him to stop or he can pursue the matter before the court.

The owner can pursue the matter in Court through the following steps;

  1. File a complaint with the Police and in terms of illegal importation, Customs should be notified as well.
  2. Produce supporting documents such as IPOPNG Certificate of Registration, Evidence of Use by the infringer such as photos or other to show the act of infringement.
  3. Serve infringement notice to the infringer
  4. Seek legal advice from a Lawyer and pursue the matter in Court for compensation of loss of business and to stop the person infringing your right from continuing to use your product.

If you have not registered your IP asset with IPOPNG and have not received a certificate of recognition of ownership for your IP product, pursuing enforcement of your IP right can be difficult because of the compulsory requirements to show proof of ownership by other government agencies such as Police and Customs.

As a right holder, it is often difficult to enforce your right as an individual because of lack of resources to enforce your right in the market.

It is more beneficial to identify other right holders like yourself and form a group to voice your concerns in relation to enforcement. This makes it easier because each member is able to contribute resources to the group for purpose of enforcement.

If you are interested to find out more on some examples of enforcement bodies within the Pacific, you can search online for Australian Pacific Reproduction Association (or APRA) in Australia which is a legal entity responsible for enforcing rights of musicians, broadcasters, producers and the like. A number of PNG musicians are members to that entity.

Trademark Questions

A Trade Mark is a sign used or proposed to be used in relation to goods or services to distinguish  goods or services of one entity/ business from those of other entities in the course of trade.

A trademark right protects a logo, sign, word, slogan, phrase or mark of an entity

The required form to register a trademark is a Trade Mark Application Form (Form 4 Application)

Anyone can register a trademark, for instance; businesses, companies, corporations, associations and individuals.

Registering a trade mark is a lengthy process and may take a minimum of 9 months to complete and obtain a Certificate of Registration.

The lengthy process is due to the examination (assessment) of the application and compulsory periods of publication and opposition and registration.

The Application Fee  or Lodgment Fee is paid when lodging a trademark application which covers file creation, examination and publication.

Registration Fee is paid after acceptance and publication of the mark in the Intellectual Property Journal. This is when the trademark is registered and a certificate of registration is issued to the owner.

It takes less than a week to process and produce a receipt.

Patent Questions

Patent protection ONLY covers the technical function of an invention whether it be a machine, a process of making a finished product or a device such as a stapler, paper clip, remote control etc.

In PNG, Patent protection is valid for only 20 years. Once the time limit expires, the invention becomes open for use by the public without any restrictions by owner.

The onus of protecting a Patent Right is the sole responsibility of the owner of that right or sometimes referred to as the Right Holder. He or she is responsible to enforce his right. The right holder is at liberty to choose the way in which he will monitor or enforce his right.

PNG Customs  have available a service for enforcement purposes where the IP Right owner can register with them to monitor the borders for any possible infringements particularly in relation to import and export of a registered IP product. You can contact them directly for further information on their enforcement processes.

To invalidate a Patent, the person whose interest is to oppose a registered Patent in PNG must pursue his intention to invalidate a patent before the Court.

The person making the request must prove to the satisfaction of the Court that –

  1. the purported invention does not conform to the definition of “invention” in Section 2 of the Act
  2. the purported invention does not conform to the requirements of patentable invention, New or Novel, Inventive Step and Industrial Applicability;
  3. the owner of the patent is not the inventor or his successor in title,

In doing so, the Court will invalidate the patent and make any additional orders that it sees fit.

Once the court decision is handed down, the person who requested for invalidation can then notify the Registrar of Patent of the Court’s decision and the Registrar will direct his office to take necessary actions.

Patented inventions have, in fact, pervaded every aspect of human life, from electric lighting (patents held by Edison and Swan) and motor car (patents held by Karl Benz) to steam locomotives (patents held by William Hedley) and many more, to assist mankind in their daily living at home, work and in the community or city they live in.

All patent owners are obliged, in return for patent protection, to publicly disclose information on their invention in order to enrich the body of technical knowledge in the world. This knowledge “feed” promotes further creativity and innovation for future generation of researchers and inventors with the main intention to enhance  quality of life.

Yes. The international patent filing system is governed by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in Geneva, Switzerland. It is this governing body that administers the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) based on the Paris Convention Treaty. The convention currently has a total of 141 member countries (as at June 2009). For which PNG acceded membership on 14th June 2003 but became effective on 14 September 2003.

The PCT is a filing system that provides for the filing of a single international patent application which has the same effect as a national application filed in any of the member countries. An applicant seeking protection may file one application and request protection in as many member states as required through the International Bureau/Authority. For more information, visit the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) website.

Yes, you can.

What you will need to do is file your application through a PCT Receiving Office and designate Papua New Guinea as one of the designated states in which you would like your application to proceed with national phase entry. The respective office will then process your application and notify you, when your application is ready for national phase entry. Often an applicant has a total of 31 months from the date of first filing (priority date) to enter national phase in the country of his choice.

Within the Pacific region, the Australian Patent Office (located in Canberra) has the capacity including facilities to facilitate your intention to file through the PCT system and therefore you are recommended to enquire with their office through the PCT Section.

There are other PCT Receiving offices as well that are located within the Asian region that can facilitate the filing of international applications through the PCT Filing System and these are Singapore, Japan, Korea, China etc.

No, not at this present time.

IPOPNG being a member of the PCT, is eligible to become a receiving office, however, it is not able to carry out this function as yet due to capacity issues. Therefore, clients are recommended to visit the website of other receiving offices within the Pacific region to facilitate their interest.

Copyright Questions

Any original artistic, literary, musical and dramatic work.

Your work is copyright protected as soon as it is completed. There are no formal requirements to meet, to obtain protection other than it must be an original work. The form of protection is through a license or by giving notice to the public by including the symbol © with your name and year of publication on your published work.

You as the author are responsible as to how your work should be produced, distributed etc. You must know who you authorized to make copies of your work so that when you monitor the market, you will be able to identify unauthorized copies of your work.

You can either seek criminal sanctions by police assistance to arrest, detain, charge or prosecute anyone who has infringed or is about to infringe your rights. Or you can pursue civil remedies such as injunctions or damages through a civil suit.

No, IPO is not an enforcement agency. It does not have legal powers to arrest, detain, charge, prosecute or order a person to pay you compensation for the infringement of your copyrights.

No, IPO is a public office. We are only the administrator of the Copyright and Neighboring Rights Act 2000. We can only provide information on your copyrights under the law.

No, copyright is a private right, it is your own property and so the onus is on you as the author to commence proceedings in your name.

Industrial Design Questions

In Papua New Guinea and most countries, an industrial design must be registered in order to be protected under industrial design law. As a general rule, in order to be registered, the design must be “new” or “original”. An industrial design that is contrary to public order or morality or which serves solely to obtain a technical result other than the features of appearance is not registrable.

In Papua New Guinea, a design is protected when it is registered under the Patent and Industrial Design Act (2000), in other words, registration can be sought by filing a complete application for industrial design registration with the Intellectual Property Office of PNG along  with your payment of the prescribed fee. See the Industrial Design Fee Schedule

The owner of a protected industrial design is granted the right to prevent unauthorized copying or imitation of the design by others. This includes the right of making, offering, importing, exporting or selling any product in which the design is incorporated or to which it is applied. He may also license or authorize others to use the design on mutually agreed terms. The owner may also sell the right to the industrial design to someone else.

Industrial design does not protect an idea, a method or process to manufacture an article, the materials used in creating an article, and the function of an article product.

Generally, industrial design protection is limited to the country in which protection is granted.

Industrial designs make an article attractive and appealing, thereby adding to its commercial value and increasing its marketability. Protecting an industrial design:

  1. helps to ensure a fair return on investment;
  2. improves the competitiveness of a business against copying and imitating the design by competitors;
  3. helps to increase the commercial value of a company, as successful industrial designs constitutes business assets;
  4. encourages creativity in the industrial and manufacturing sectors, as well as traditional arts and crafts.

A registered owner of a design is expected to monitor and enforce its right independently within Papua New Guinea. This means that the owner has the sole responsibility to ensure that its right is not violated through infringement by way of selling, manufacturing, distributing or importing of the design by others without its consent.

Other avenues available to facilitate monitoring and enforcement by the design owner is through the act of issuing a written notice to responsible government authorities who have regulatory and enforcement functions. This is to make them aware that there is a protection in force and that those possible infringements, if any, must be prevented. PNG Customs is one government authority that maintains an IP Database to facilitate their work at the borders particularly in relation to control of imports and exports.

 Should there be any likelihood of an emerging infringement case identified by the owner, he or she should first report the matter to the police for investigation and pursue it in court for an injunction to be carried out against the infringer.

Papua New Guinea is currently not a member of the Hague Agreement on Industrial Designs and therefore all applications filed before IPOPNG are filed through the Paris Route.

This means that all applications filed are considered National Applications and are accorded the necessary filing requirements as stipulated under the Paris Convention for Industrial Property Rights, particularly, for international applicants.