Intellectual Property Rights in Turkmenistan: Key Issues Remain Unresolved

The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) released its 2024 Special 301 Report outlining protection and enforcement of intellectual property (IP) rights among the U.S. trading partners. Turkmenistan remains on the Watch List in 2024 due to its underlying IP problems. Uzbekistan, which was on the watchlist in 2023 was removed from the list in 2024 given the country’s sustained progress on IP protection and enforcement.

The 2024 report highlights several positive steps taken by Turkmenistan. This includes adoption of a program for the development of the intellectual property system of Turkmenistan for 2021-2025 and Turkmenistan’s participation in meetings of the Intellectual Property Working Group under the United States-Central Asia Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA).

Nevertheless, Turkmenistan’s IP protection fails to meet international standards. Several long-standing IP concerns raised in previous reports remain unaddressed. These include:

  • Use of unlicensed software: While some government agencies have started to use licensed software, Turkmenistan still lacks a presidential-level decree, law, or regulation mandating the use of fully licensed software by government ministries and agencies. Using unlicensed software exposes government institutions to higher risks of security vulnerabilities.
  • Lack of modern copyright protection: Turkmenistan has to modernize its copyright protection for foreign sound recordings. This includes accession to and implementation of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT) and WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT), collectively known as the WIPO Internet Treaties.
  • Lack of ex officio authority: The border enforcement lacks authority to seize and destroy suspected counterfeit goods without the need for a formal complaint from a right holder. Due to Turkmenistan’s failure to enforce its IP laws, counterfeit and pirated goods remain widely available in the country’s major cities. To improve transparency and help inform and enhance IP enforcement in Turkmenistan the State Service for Intellectual Property should publish its activities and data on seizures facilitated by the State Customs Service.
  • Mandatory requirements to record trademark licenses: Turkmenistan frequently imposes unnecessary administrative and financial burdens on trademark owners and creates difficulty in the enforcement and maintenance of trademark rights.

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