After uproar over ‘harimau menangis’ trademark claim, MyIPO chief says application still open to challenge

Mohamad said MyIPO maintained a 'first-to-file' basis for trademark applications but retained avenues for objections from aggrieved parties. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Mohamad said MyIPO maintained a 'first-to-file' basis for trademark applications but retained avenues for objections from aggrieved parties. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 13 ― Aggrieved parties can contest a company’s bid to trademark the harimau menangis phrase if they believe this to be incorrectly sought, said Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia (MyIPO) chairman Datuk Mohamad Alamin.

Mohamad said MyIPO maintained a “first-to-file" basis for trademark applications but retained avenues for objections from aggrieved parties.

He also said such a challenge would then force the applicant to substantiate their trademark claim.

“Furthermore, the burden of proof lies with the claimant of the trademark; if a legal challenge is brought to them, then they have to actually show or provide proof that they are indeed the first to use such a name,” Alamin said briefly to Malay Mail when contacted.

This follows the online controversy over after a screengrab of a MyIPO application supposedly by Noor Khan Enterprise to trademark harimau menangis made its rounds on Twitter.

The company of celebrity entrepreneur Neelofa’s mother, Datin Noor Kartini Noor Mohamed, is believed to have applied to trademark the Malay phrase, which has its origins in the Thai dish Sua Rong Hai.

A screengrab of the application dated November 24, 2020 showed the status was “under formality verification” as of November 30, 2020.

According to the MyIPO’s manual of trademark laws and practice, under Chapter 8, the examination of application for registration (General), the onus of showing that the trademark is registrable is firmly on the applicant.

Should the trademark registrar have any doubts, it is incumbent on the applicant to dispel them.

It also stated where the registrar remains in doubt even after taking into account any representations or evidence that the applicant brings forward in support of his application, the application must be refused because, in that event, the applicant has not discharged the legal onus which is on the applicant.

However, the applicant can appeal to the decision made by the registrar.

The Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia (MyIPO) provides registration services for patents, trademarks, industry designs, geographic indicators and voluntary copyrights.

Based on its website, trademark applications take about seven months from the date of filling for expedited examination applications and 12 months for normal applications.

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