Fortune Hunters

Mar. 03 (LBO) — About 35 percent of local trademark applications are thrown out, as fortune hunters try to strike gold by piggybacking on an already famous name, top officials said Friday. “At least 35 percent of the trademarks that come to our office for protection should not have reached our office at all. These are all people having a free ride on someone else’s trademark,” D M Karunaratne, Director of the National Intellectual Property Office of Sri Lanka, told a workshop.

That includes slight variations to a brand name such as changing a single letter so that unsuspecting customers believe it is real or close to the real thing.

Intellectual property covers patents, trademarks and copyrights, and once a right is established, unauthorised copies are considered counterfeits, or illegal goods

The local IPR office is flooded with about 6,000 trademark applications each year, more than the local office can handle, Karunaratne says. Most of them are local applicants.

Famous international brands like top clothing labels, which are supplied by local manufacturers, are also covered by local protection.

Sri Lankan companies also protect industrial designs such as jewelle