Effective protection for intellectual property is considered by Lao officials to be essential for the country's successful transition to a market economy. The Ministries with the principal responsibility for intellectual property in the Lao PDR are aware that more comprehensive intellectual property law is required and have prepared a programme of legal reform that will enable the Lao PDR to meet existing and future obligations under various treaties, and in particular the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Property Rights - the TRIPS Agreement.
A Prime Ministerial Decree on Trademarks (*), from 1995, is the only law that protects intellectual property in the Lao PDR. The Department of Intellectual Property, Standardisation and Metrology, which is in the Science, Technology and Environment Agency (STEA) in the Prime Minister's Office, is in the process of putting the finishing touches to a comprehensive law that will protect patents, utility models, industrial designs and other areas of intellectual property rights to enable the Lao PDR to more fully meet its obligations under the 1979 Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, to which the Lao PDR acceded in 1998.
The Lao PDR is also envisaging the eventual adoption of laws to protect copyright and related rights to enable the Lao PDR to meet its obligations once it accedes to the 1979 Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. Lao officials are also considering laws that will enable the country to comply with the 1961 Rome Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organisations and the 1989 Washington Treaty on Intellectual Property in Respect of Integrated Circuits.