Protecting trademarks is tricky across the border in nepal, for a variety of reasons, write Roma Arora and Harsh Aggarwal

Astroll through any of Kathmandu’s markets reveals that Nepal’s commerce is closely linked to Indian brands and to international brands that have a strong presence in India. The Indo-Nepal border is highly porous and there are innumerable social and cultural similarities between the two countries. But when it comes to the protection of trademarks and the treatment they get in law, India and Nepal are diametrically opposite.

On the trademark registration front Nepal follows the principle of first-to-file. In this it is similar to several countries including China, Spain, Germany, the Philippines, Mexico, Vietnam and Thailand. Accordingly the party that is first to apply to register a trademark secures exclusive rights to the mark.

This has been a challenge for many foreign and international brands that want to do business in the country. If a reputed company has failed to register its trademarks in Nepal before it even considered its potential, chances are that its marks are already owned by someone else – usually a local.

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ROMA ARORA is an assistant general manager and HARSH AGGARWAL is deputy general manager of legal at Havells India.