Kazakhstan Amends Legislation to Strengthen Protection of Intellectual Property Rights

Published September 9, 2022

On June 20, 2022, Kazakhstan adopted a set of amendments to several intellectual property laws introducing significant changes in the IP field. These amendments simplify the procedure for IP registration, eliminate legal gaps, and remove administrative barriers around intellectual property. After being signed by the country's President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the "Law on Amendments and Supplements to Certain Legislative Acts of the Republic of Kazakhstan on Improving Legislation in the Fields of Intellectual Property and Providing State-Guaranteed Legal Aid" enter into force on August 21, 2022.

Currently, Kazakhstan is a party to 19 international treaties and 25 regional agreements in the sphere of IP. In this regard, in 2020, the Mazhilis (the lower house of parliament in Kazakhstan) recommended that the country's Ministry of Justice conducts an analysis of how the law is applied and used in the field of intellectual property and whether it requires updating. Based on the results of the analysis, the Ministry of Justice, with the involvement of international legal consultants, drafted proposals for the further development of legislation concerning intellectual property. The proposals were then presented to the members of Kazakhstan's parliament, who in turn prepared the draft bill on this subject.

The legislation contains important initiatives that will improve areas related to intellectual property. For instance, Kazakhstan has introduced geographical indication as a new type of intellectual property. It is defined as an indication identifying that a product has originated in a certain geographical area and that its quality, character, and other features are strongly linked to its geographical origin. The objective of this amendment is to open up new opportunities for domestic producers to enter global markets.

In addition, the Patent Law has also been updated, making it possible to claim legal protection for patent designs that are not registered in Kazakhstan. As such, a patent design that is new and original can be protected without registration for three years from the date of its first disclosure (the date when the patent design was made public in Kazakhstan). With respect to industrial designs, the initial term of validity has been reduced from 15 years to 10 years. However, the protection term can be extended for additional five-year periods up to three times, for a total maximum term of 25 years from the application filing date. Currently, the initial 15-year validity period can only be extended once for five years.

It will also be possible to object to the registration of a trademark at the stage of consideration of an application. Any third party will be able to file an objection within one month of the date of the publication of the application. The trademark applicant will then have the opportunity to submit evidence within three months of the date of the Trademark Office's notification of the filed objection. The Trademark Office will finally make its decision in opposition proceedings based on the provisions of the Trademark Law and the evidence provided by the respective parties.

The amendments also aim to improve the quality of services provided by patent attorneys by clarifying their qualification requirements, the rights of a patent attorney, and the procedure for removing them from the register. These changes are another step in improving the legislation in the field of intellectual property in Kazakhstan. Once implemented, these amendments will strengthen the scope of protection of intellectual property rights, bring the national legislation in line with the provisions of international treaties, as well as expand the scope of receiving state-guaranteed legal assistance. While such legislative amendments may not receive as much global interest as the recent extensive changes to the country's Constitution through the national referendum of June 5, 2022, they are nevertheless substantial for eliminating violations of the rights of thousands of copyright holders, which is of significant importance at a time of growing digitalization and launch of start-ups.

The Author

The author is Ermek Altynbekov, Director of the Department for Intellectual Property Rights of the Ministry of Justice of Kazakhstan