An official website of the United States Government Here's how you know

Official websites use .gov

A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS

A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Armenia

5. Protection of Property Rights

Real Property

Armenian law protects secured interests in property, both personal and real. Armenian law provides a basic framework for secured lending, collateral, and pledges and provides a mechanism to support modern lending practices and title registration. According to Armenia’s constitution, foreign citizens are prohibited from owning land, though they may take out long-term leases. In the World Bank’s 2020 Ease of Doing Business report, Armenia ranked 13th among 190 economies for the ease of registering property. Lack of clear title to land is generally not an issue in Armenia. The World Bank observes that while all land plots in Armenia are mapped, some may not be formally registered with the body responsible for immovable property registration.

Intellectual Property Rights

Armenia has a strong legislative and regulatory framework to protect intellectual property rights (IPR).  Domestic legislation, including the 2006 Law on Copyright and Related Rights, provides for the protection of copyright with respect to literary, scientific, and artistic works (including computer programs and databases), patents and other rights of invention, industrial design, know-how, trade secrets, trademarks, and service marks.  The Intellectual Property Agency (IPA) in the Ministry of Economy is responsible for granting patents and overseeing other IPR-related matters. The collective management organization ARMAUTHOR manages authors’ economic rights. Trademarks and patents require state registration by the IPA, but copyright does not.  There is no special trade secret law in Armenia, but the protection of trade secrets is covered by Armenia’s Civil Code. Formal registration is straightforward, the database of registered IPR is public, and applications to register IPR are published online for two months for comment by third parties. Armenia’s legislation has been harmonized with the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

In 2005, Armenia created an IPR Enforcement Unit in the Organized Crime Department of the Armenian Police, which acts only based on complaints from right holders and does not exercise ex-officio powers.

Despite the existence of relevant legislation and executive government structures, the concept of IPR remains unrecognized by a large part of the local population. The onus for IPR complaints rests with the offended party.  The police assert that the majority of cases are settled through out-of-court proceedings. While the Armenian government has made some progress on IPR issues, strengthening enforcement mechanisms remains necessary. UNCTAD reports that low awareness and poor monitoring of IPR violations harm the business climate.

A new Law on Copyright has been drafted.  It includes provisions from new international agreements (Marrakesh and Beijing Treaties). A new Law on Patents and Law on Industrial Design have been adopted by the parliament. The new Law on Patents strengthens the requirement for substantive examination before rights registration and introduces the concept of a short-term patent. The new Law on Industrial Design includes some procedural changes, including publishing applications for industrial designs and objects during the state registration process.

Armenia is not included in USTR’s Special 301 Report or Notorious Markets List.

For additional information about national laws and points of contact at local IP offices, please WIPO’s country profiles at  http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/ .

Azerbaijan

5. Protection of Property Rights

Georgia

5. Protection of Property Rights

Real Property

Georgia ranks high in the World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 report in general, but especially in the category of “registering property.” Processes to register property are streamlined, transparent, and take one day to process at Public Service Halls.

In June 2017, the Parliament adopted a legislative amendment that placed a moratorium on the sale of agricultural land to foreign citizens and stateless persons. Under the amendment, foreigners, legal entities registered abroad, and legal entities registered by foreigners in Georgia were not able to purchase agricultural land in Georgia. Furthermore, the new Constitution that came into force in December 2018 determined that agricultural land can only be owned by the state, self-governing entities, citizens of Georgia, or a group of Georgian citizens. The Constitution also states that exclusions may be specified in organic law, which requires votes from at least two-thirds of Parliament to pass.

Mortgages and liens are registered through the public registry and information can be obtained from the webpage www.napr.gov.ge .

The government has taken multiple steps to regulate land titling, including facilitating simplified procedures, free registration campaigns, and mediation services. The National Public Registration Agency reported that from August 2016 through February 2019, 300 thousand hectares of land were registered under the land reform project, increasing the share of titled land to 45 percent. Unclear or unregistered titling bears the potential to hamper investment projects.

Property ownership cannot revert to other owners when legally purchased property stays unoccupied.

Intellectual Property Rights

Georgia acceded to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and thus the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) in 2000. The Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development is responsible for WTO compliance.

The legal framework for protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) in Georgia is approximated to international standards. Six laws regulate IPR in Georgia: the Law on Patents, the Law on Trademarks, the Law on Copyrights and Neighboring Rights, the Law on Appellation of Origin and Geographic Indication of Goods, the Law on Topographies of Integrated Circuits, and the Law on IP-Related Border Measures. Georgian law now provides protection for works of literature, art, science, and sound recordings for 50 years.

The National Intellectual Property Center of Georgia (Sakpatenti) provides legal protection for IPR in Georgia: it issues protective documents on invention, utility model, trademark, design, geographical indication and appellation of origin, new animal breeds and plant varieties, and ensures the deposit of copyrighted work. The Revenue Service, which is part of the Ministry of Finance, is responsible for enforcing the protection of IPR holders that are listed in the Register of Intellectual Property Subject-Matters of the relevant service. The Revenue Service is responsible for border control and can halt import or export of items based on the register data. After the registration procedure is completed, the Revenue Service is liable to suspend counterfeit goods. According to the Law, the goods may be suspended for no longer than 10 working days, which may be extended by the Revenue Service for another 10 working days. The Law of Georgia on Border Measures Related to Intellectual Property provides for the possibility of destruction of counterfeit goods based on a court decision.

Sakpatenti is an active and engaged partner of the United States in educating the public on IPR issues. Sakpatenti coordinates the government’s approach to IPR enforcement under the Interagency Coordination Council (Council) for IPR Enforcement, which is an efficient platform for government institutions to exchange their views on such issues. Georgia is improving enforcement, but some problems persist, including the widespread use of unlicensed software and the availability of pirated video and audio recordings and other unlicensed content online. The U.S. government Commercial Law Development Program continues to provide assistance to Sakpatenti and other government entities to build capacity to deal with IPR-related issues effectively.

With the aim of further improving domestic legislation and its harmonization with international standards, Sakpatenti has engaged in adjusting laws or amendments to existing legislation regulating intellectual property. For example, in 2020, Sakpatenti prepared two draft laws – “On Amendments to the Law of Georgia on Appellations of Origin of Goods and Geographical Indications” and “On Amendments to the Patent Law of Georgia” to harmonize Georgian legislation with that of the EU. The amendments to the appellations of origins law introduce new certification and state control mechanisms and increases the role of producers’ associations and unions in this regard, while the patent law amendments pave the way to ratification of the European Patent Organization’s (EPO) Validation Agreement, signed in 2019.

In 2020, the Investigation Service of the Ministry of Finance of Georgia filed 10 cases on violation of Articles 196, 197 and 210 of the Criminal Code of Georgia (Unlawful use of trademark (service marks) or other commercial designations). As a result, 640,012 items of counterfeit goods were seized, with a total value of GEL 204.189 (around $63,000). In addition, the Customs Department issued 101 orders on suspension of goods. Out of these, in 38 cases the rights holder and the owner of the goods agreed on destruction of the goods. The total value of the destroyed counterfeit goods on the bases of agreement between the rights holder and the owner, or by the court decision, or based on the respective measures was GEL 79,882 (around USD 25,000). In 2020, the Tax Monitoring Department of LEPL Revenue Service revealed 8 cases of trademark infringement, seizing 12,591 items of counterfeit goods worth GEL 29,942 (around USD 9,200).

Infringement of industrial property rights, copyrights, performers’ rights, rights of makers of databases, trademarks or other illegal use of commercial indications can incur civil, criminal, and administrative penalties. Depending on the type and extent of the violation, penalties include fines, corrective labor, social work, or imprisonment.

The Criminal Code of Georgia regulates prosecution of IPR violations, in particular: Articles 189, 1891 and 196. More detailed information can be found at https://matsne.gov.ge/document/view/16426?publication=232 

Georgia is not listed in USTR’s Special 301 Report or the Notorious Markets List.

For additional information about treaty obligations and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at: http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/ .

Kazakhstan

5. Protection of Property Rights

Real Property

With certain sectoral exceptions, private entities, both foreign and domestic, have the right to establish and own business enterprises, buy and sell business interests, and engage in all forms of commercial activity.

Secured interests in property (fixed and non-fixed) are recognized under the Civil Code and the Land Code. All property and lease rights for real estate must be registered with the Ministry of Justice through its local service centers. According to the World Bank’s Doing Business Report, Kazakhstan ranks 24 out of 190 countries in ease of registering property.

Under Kazakhstan’s constitution, agricultural land and certain other natural resources may be owned or leased only by Kazakhstani citizens. The Land Code: (a) allows citizens and Kazakhstani companies to own agricultural and urban land, including commercial and non-commercial buildings, complexes, and dwellings; (b) permits foreigners to own land to build industrial and non-industrial facilities, including dwellings, with the exception of agricultural lands and land located in border zones; (c) authorizes the government to monitor proper use of leased agricultural lands, the results of which may affect the status of land-lease contracts; (d) forbids private ownership of: land used for national defense and national security purposes, specially protected nature reserves, forests, reservoirs, glaciers, swamps, designated public areas within urban or rural settlements, except land plots occupied by private building and premises, main railways and public roads, land reserved for future national parks, subsoil use and power facilities, and social infrastructure. The government maintains the land inventory and constantly updates its electronic data base, though the inventory data is not exhaustive. The government has also set up rules for withdrawing land plots that have been improperly or never used.

In 2015, the government proposed Land Code amendments that would allow foreigners to rent agricultural lands for up to 25 years. Mass protests in the spring of 2016 led the government to introduce a moratorium on these provisions until December 31, 2021. The moratorium is also effective on other related articles of the Land Code that regulate private ownership rights on agricultural lands. In March 2021, President Tokayev initiated changes in the legislation to ban both the sale and lease of agricultural lands to foreigners. On March 17, the Mazhilis, the lower Chamber of the Parliament, started to consider the amended legislation, according to which, foreigners, persons without citizenship, foreign legal entities and legal entities with foreign participation, international organizations, scientific centers with foreign participation, and repatriated Kazakhs cannot own and take in temporary use agricultural lands. The amendments are expected to be adopted in the first half of 2021.

Intellectual Property Rights

The legal structure for intellectual property rights (IPR) protection is relatively strong; however, enforcement needs further improvement. Kazakhstan is not currently included in the United States Trade Representative (USTR) Special 301 Report. To facilitate its accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and attract foreign investment, Kazakhstan continues to improve its legal regime for protecting IPR. The Civil Code and various laws protect U.S. IPR. Kazakhstan has ratified 18 of the 24 treaties endorsed by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO): https://wipolex.wipo.int/en/treaties/ShowResults?country_id=97C.

Kazakhstan’s IPR legislation has improved. The Criminal Code sets out punishments for violations of copyright, rights for inventions, useful models, industrial patterns, selected inventions, and integrated circuit topographies. The law authorizes the government to target internet piracy and shut down websites unlawfully sharing copyrighted material, provided that the rights holders had registered their copyrighted material with Kazakhstan’s IPR Committee. Despite these efforts, U.S. companies and associated business groups have alleged that 73 percent of software used in Kazakhstan is pirated, including in government agencies, and have criticized the government’s enforcement efforts.

To comply with OECD IPR standards, in 2018 Kazakhstan accepted amendments to its IPR legislation. The law set up a more convenient, one-tier system of IPR registration and provided rights holders the opportunity for pre-trial dispute settlement through the Appeals Council at the Ministry of Justice. In addition, the law included IPR protection as one of the government procurement principles that should be strictly followed by government organizations. Currently, the Parliament is considering a new bill on IPR issues. The bill introduces a notion of geographical indication, a short-term (up to three years) protection of unregistered industrial designs, an “opposition” system for challenging requests for registration of trademarks, geographical indications, and appellation of origin of goods. Also, the bill is expected to make copyright collective organizations more transparent and effective and to improve regulation of patent attorneys’ activity. In 2020, Kazakhstan ratified the Protocol on Protection of Industrial Designs of the Eurasian Patent Convention from September 1994 and signed the Agreement of the Eurasian Economic Union on trademarks, service marks, and appellation of origin of goods.

Kazakhstan’s authorities conduct nationwide campaigns called “Counterfeit”, “Hi-Tech” and “Anti-Fraud” that are aimed at detecting and ceasing IPR infringements and increasing public awareness about IP issues.  In 2020, these campaigns resulted in the seizing of 4.8 thousand units of counterfeit goods. The Ministry of Justice and law enforcement agencies regularly report the results of their inspections. However, the moratorium on inspections of small and medium-sized businesses that came into force in December 2019 reduced significantly the number of IPR-related inspections in 2020.

In 2020, the Ministry of Internal Affairs initiated 14 criminal cases for copyright violations and seven administrative cases, imposing penalties of USD 5,300. In addition, regional authorities reportedly seized 3,800 units of counterfeit goods worth around USD 4,000 and identified 24 foreign websites, selling pirated software. On the border, customs officials suspended the release of counterfeited goods in the amount of USD 20.1 million.

In 2020, the government agency on investigation of economic crimes identified and closed one illegal plant that produced counterfeited pharmaceuticals. Criminals fabricated packages using known trademarks and altered the expiry dates of the drugs. Although Kazakhstan continues to make progress to comply with WTO requirements and OECD standards, foreign companies complain of inadequate IPR protection. Judges, customs officials, and police officers also lack IPR expertise, which exacerbates weak IPR enforcement.

For additional information about national laws and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at https://www.wipo.int/directory/en/details.jsp?country_code=KZ.

Kyrgyzstan

5. Protection of Property Rights

Real Property

Inviolability of property rights is written in the Kyrgyz Constitution and the Civil Code. In the National Development Strategy for 2018-2040, the Kyrgyz Government identified property rights as one of the priority areas for strengthening investment climate in the Kyrgyz Republic. The Kyrgyz Republic was first among its neighboring Central Asian states to introduce private property rights for land ownership. The Kyrgyz Republic is among the easiest countries in which to register property, ranking 7th out of 190 countries (ranked 8th in 2017, 2018 and 2019) in the World Bank’s 2020 Doing Business report.

Mortgages and liens are common in the Kyrgyz Republic and operate according to relevant legislation. The State Registration Service is the major operator of a recording system (database) on property under mortgage/lien commitments. When providing mortgages, local banks must request a reference from the State Registration Service that confirms the property is not under lien. However, several have questioned the reliability of the recording system, and the Service itself is frequently subject to allegations of corruption.

There are a number of legal restrictions on the right of foreign persons to own land in the Kyrgyz Republic. The land rights of foreign persons are limited to the following:

  • Foreign persons may not own or use agricultural land.
  • Foreign persons may not own or use any land except residential land, which has been foreclosed under a mortgage loan agreement in accordance with Kyrgyz Pledge Law. Foreclosed agricultural land may belong to foreign banks and specialized financial institutions but only for the period of two years (http://cbd.minjust.gov.kg/act/view/ru-ru/386).
  • Foreign persons may use non-residential land transferred thereto by way of universal succession, except agricultural and mining use land, subject to permission of the Kyrgyz Government, for the period of up to 50 years.
  • Foreign persons who have acquired ownership of land by way of universal succession (inheritance, reorganization) must transfer such land to a Kyrgyz national or legal entity within one year from the date of acquiring such ownership.

Intellectual Property Rights

The Kyrgyz Republic has robust legislation protecting intellectual property (IP)  and the country is a signatory to several IP related international treaties; enforcement remains problematic. The State Service for Intellectual Property and Innovation under the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic (“Kyrgyzpatent”) is the authorized body of the Executive Branch that issues documents to certify intellectual property. Kyrgyzpatent establishes the Appeal Council that is the primary body to hear intellectual property related disputes. The judicial system remains underdeveloped and lacks independence and the appeals process can be lengthy.

The Kyrgyz Republic is obligated to protect intellectual property rights as a member of the WTO. The Kyrgyz Republic acceded to both the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty in 2002. The Kyrgyz Republic was not included in the 2019 Special 301 report but was listed on the 2019 U.S. Trade Representative’s Notorious Markets report, due to the availability of counterfeit goods sold at the massive Dordoi bazaar – Central Asia’s largest market. Counterfeit goods imported from China are also re-exported to Russia and Kazakhstan. No specific action has been taken against Dordoi market. The Kyrgyz Republic did not pass any new IPR related laws or regulations in 2020.

IPR-related codes, laws and regulations of the Kyrgyz Republic are listed on Kyrgyzpatent’s website. The few pending IPR bills listed on the Parliament’s website are mainly aimed to make minor changes into the existing governmental IPR-related decrees ( http://patent.kg/ru/sample-page-5-4/sample-page-2-2-3/). Criminal liability for violation of IPR is listed in the Criminal Code. Unfortunately, enforcement is lax and according to sources, there have been no successful prosecution for IPR violations in the history of the Kyrgyz Republic. The Kyrgyz Republic is not known as a major producer of counterfeit goods but sale/re-export of imported counterfeit goods remains prevalent. The State Customs Service regularly publishes alerts and notifications on the recent seizure of counterfeit goods on its official website. There is no central database of official statistics on the seizure of counterfeit goods to date. IPPA has a whole chapter on its website dedicated to IPR.

Resources for Rights Holders

Contact at Mission:
Munara Niiazova
Commercial Assistant
+996 312 59 76 07
NiiazovaME@state.gov

Country/Economy Resources:
American Chamber of Commerce
Address: 191 Abdrakhmanov Street, Office #123
Phone: +996 312 623 389, 623 395
Fax: +996 312 623 406
E-mail: pa.amcham@gmail.com, memberservices@amcham.kg

For additional information about national laws and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/

Tajikistan

5. Protection of Property Rights

Real Property

The Tajik government uses a cadaster system to record, protect, and facilitate acquisition and disposition of property, but it needs improvement.  Even when secured interests in property do exist, enforcement remains an issue.  Investors should be aware that establishing title might be a more involved process than in Western countries because title histories can be difficult to find.

Since 2007, the U.S. government has provided significant, sustained, and focused support to the Tajik government on market-driven land reforms.  Most recently, Tajikistan’s Land Market Development Activity (LMDA) successfully launched “one-stop shops” for land registration throughout Khatlon, cutting wait times from 15 to four days.  The activity also supports the launch of a new automated registration system designed to centralize records, streamline procedures, and further simplify land registration.   In 2020, LMDA supported government implementation of single-window principles in land management, and developed a land appraisal law approved by the government to regulate appraisals and better-define land market value.

According to domestic law, all land belongs exclusively to the state; individuals or entities may be granted first or second-tier land-use rights.  The government restricts foreigners’ first-tier land-use rights to 50 years, while Tajik individuals and entities may have indefinite first-tier land-use rights.  Foreigners may request second-tier land-use rights from the government similar to the first-tier rights of Tajik individuals and entities, for periods of up to 50 years.  Tajik first-tier land-use rights holders may also grant foreigners lease agreements for up to 20 years.  Ownership of rural land-use rights can be particularly opaque, since many nominally privatized former collective farms continue to operate as a single entity.  Many of the new owners do not know where their land is and do not exercise their property rights.

Tajik law does not allow the sale of land.  In 2008, however, the government passed mortgage legislation that allows parties to use immovable property as collateral.  All land is the property of the state.  If leaseholders do not use land in accordance with the purpose of the lease, then authorities can revert it to other owners.

Intellectual Property Rights

Tajikistan is a signatory to several international conventions that protect intellectual property rights (IPR), including the World International Property Organization (WIPO) Convention.  Tajikistan has signed 17 WIPO administered treaties.  IPR-related laws, regulations, and treaties are listed here:

http://www.ncpi.tj/index.php/ru/pravila/zakony

http://www.wipo.int/wipolex/en/profile.jsp?code=TJ

Although the novel coronavirus pandemic drained resources and attention away from IPR issues, the Tajik government is actively working to improve IPR protection.  A presidential decree mandating that the government use licensed software led to the September 2019 creation of an interagency working group — chaired by the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, with participation from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Internal Affairs, and Culture, as well as the Customs Service and the Department for the Protection of State Secrets — to develop processes to enforce intellectual property rights.  In 2020, the IPR working group met with donors and the private sector and reported data on court cases related to IPR violations.  Additionally, the working group produced the first draft of the administration’s in-progress National Strategy for the Development of Intellectual Property.  Tajikistan was removed from the USTR Special 301 Watch List in 2019 and is not included in the Notorious Markets List.

Notwithstanding the gains Tajikistan has made in the past couple years, numerous challenges remain as the government lacks the technical capacity to effectively protect patents, copyrights, and other intellectual property.  Despite the IPR protections enshrined in international agreements as well as in Tajikistan’s criminal and civil codes, infringement is widespread and enforcement remains weak. Following a seven-year hiatus between 2012-2018 in which the government declined to share enforcement data, the Ministry of Internal Affairs reported 54 intellectual property rights violations in 2020, and initiated 11 administrative and 43 criminal cases.

At present, IP does not represent a sizeable portion of the Tajik economy, although estimates indicate over 90 percent of software and other media products sold in the country are unlicensed copies, and many “brand name” consumer goods are counterfeit.  Counterfeit goods available in Tajik markets are principally manufactured in China, and most purveyors are independent operators and small traders rather than organized criminal groups.

Tajikistan amended Article 441 of its customs code during WTO accession to provide ex officio authority for customs officers to seize and destroy counterfeit goods.  The Department on Disclosing and Seizing of Counterfeit Products within the Customs Service of Tajikistan has the responsibility to detect IPR-related violations.  Currently, the Customs Service has only three IPR products registered in its customs registry.  Tajikistan’s Law on Quality and Safety of Products requires IPR violators to pay all expenses for storage, transportation, and destruction of counterfeit goods.

To register a patent or trademark with the National Center for Patents and Information (NCPI), applicants must submit an application with all relevant information on the IP and pay a fee.  The NCPI (www.ncpi.tj) will search its records for conflicts and, if none is found, register the IP within 30 days from the time the application is received.  In general, the issuance of a trademark might take four to seven months, while obtaining a patent for an invention could take up to two years.

For additional information about treaty obligations and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/.

Resources for Rights Holders:

U.S. Embassy
Economic Section
Dushanbe-ICS@state.gov

American Chamber of Commerce in Tajikistan
+992 (93) 577 23 23 +992 (93) 577 29 29
Director@amcham.tj
Info@amcham.tj

Public list of local lawyers:
https://tj.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/local-resources-of-u-s-citizens/attorneys/

Turkmenistan

5. Protection of Property Rights

Real Property

All land is owned by the government. Individuals and entities may own property on the land. The 1993 Law on Property (last amended November 2015) defines the following types of property owners: private, state, non-government organizations, cooperative, joint venture, foreign states, legal entities and citizens, international organizations, and mixed private and state. Some dwellings have been privatized, allowing Turkmenistan’s citizens to rent and sell apartments and houses. The Law on Privatization of State Housing came into force in January 2014. The October 2007 amendments to the Land Code (last amended February 2017) provide land leases for up to 40 years for hotels and recreational facilities in National Tourist Zones. Land and facilities subsequently built on the plot must be transferred to the state after the expiration of the contract. According to the Law on Foreign Investment, foreign investments in Turkmenistan are not subject to nationalization and requisition; foreign properties may be confiscated only following a court decision. However, this law has not been respected in practice.

Banks provide preferential mortgage loans (at an annual interest rate of 1% for up to 30 years, including a five-year grace period) for the purchase of a new residence. Only government employees qualify for such concessional loans. In addition, government entities often pay 50% of the price of the new residence for their employees. Until mid-2015, banks also provided regular mortgage loans (with an annual interest rate of 7-8% for up to 10 years) for housing in locations other than so-called “elite” apartments. Liens are not common in Turkmenistan, in part because the 30-year mortgage payment dates have not expired for most of the apartments bought after the country’s independence in 1991.

Intellectual Property Rights

While the legal structure to protect IP is strong, enforcement is weak. IP infringement and theft are common. The government has enacted laws designed to protect intellectual property rights (IPR) domestically, but these laws are either arbitrarily implemented or not implemented at all. Turkmenistan has been on the United States government’s Special 301 Watch List  since 2000. Turkmenistan is not, however, listed in USTR’s notorious market report.

The Law on Foreign Investment guarantees the protection of intellectual property of foreign investors, including literary, artistic, and scientific works; software; databases; patents; and other copyrighted items. The 1993 Most Favored Nation Agreement between the United States and Turkmenistan also provides for favorable treatment of copyrighted materials.

The following table presents the major international IPR treaties that Turkmenistan has signed:

 Treaty Instrument Entered into Force
Marrakesh VIP Treaty Accession: October 15, 2020 January 15, 2021
Rome Convention Accession: August 31, 2020 November 30, 2020
Berne Convention Accession: February 29, 2016 May 29, 2016
Hague Agreement Accession: December 16, 2015 March 16, 2016
Nairobi Treaty Accession: December 16, 2015 January 16, 2016
Locarno Agreement Accession: March 7, 2006 June 7, 2006
Nice Agreement Accession: March 7, 2006 June 7, 2006
Madrid Protocol Accession: June 28, 1999 September 28, 1999
Paris Convention Declaration of Continued Application: March 1, 1995 December 25, 1991
Patent Cooperation Treaty Declaration of Continued Application: March 1, 1995 December 25, 1991
Strasbourg Agreement Accession: March 7, 2006 March 7, 2007
Vienna Agreement Accession: March 7, 2006 June 7, 2006
WIPO Convention Declaration of Continued Application: March 1, 1995 December 25, 1991

Turkmenistan has not signed the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) 1996 Copyright Treaty, the 1996 WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (collectively known as the WIPO Internet treaties), or the 2000 Patent Law Treaty. In August 2015, Turkmenistan adopted an Action Plan for the Development of an Intellectual Property System in Turkmenistan for 2015-2020, and the plan includes a section on the role of IPR in attracting foreign investment into the country. The government reportedly completed a 2021-2025 Action Plan for IPR, but copies of the text or information about the plan have not been released.

In August 2020, Turkmenistan acceded to the 1961 WIPO Rome Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms, and Broadcasting Organizations. In October 2020, Turkmenistan acceded to the 2013 WIPO Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled. The State Agency for Intellectual Property reported that Turkmenistan had intended to accede the 2000 WIPO Patent Law Treaty in 2020, but as of April 2021 the country had not yet done so.

Turkmenistan has also joined the Eurasian Patent Organization, created for CIS countries as part of WIPO. The Copyright Law was enacted in 2000 as part of Turkmenistan’s Civil Code. This law defines copyrighted products and the rights of owners of the copyrighted products and provides for their legal protection. In January 2012, the law was amended to include additional IPR-related provisions, including exclusive rights (absolute title), licensing agreements, and the collective management of ownership rights. There is a Patent Department in the Ministry of Finance and Economy which issues patents on intellectual property but does not enforce copyright laws.

In November 2014, the government enacted a new Law on Publishing that establishes the legal basis for oversight of publishers, manufacturers, distributors, and consumers of printed materials. The law states that illegal reproduction of printed materials and other violations of intellectual property rights of the publisher will carry monetary penalties and allow for full recovery of losses incurred, including lost income. Article 153 of the Criminal Code details the criminal penalties for IPR-related violations.  Counterfeit goods constitute a significant share of most consumer goods including imported textile products, footwear, and electronics. There is no publicly available information or estimate on any seizure, storage, or destruction of counterfeit goods. Most software in use is unlicensed, including in many government ministries.

The government has not committed to purchasing licensed software.

For additional information about treaty obligations and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at https://www.wipo.int/directory/en/ .

Uzbekistan

5. Protection of Property Rights

Real Property

Property ownership is governed by the Law on Protection of Private Property and Guarantees of the Owner’s Rights. Uzbekistani and foreign entities may own or lease buildings, but not the underlying land. Mortgages are available for local individuals only, but not for legal entities. There are no mortgage lien securities in Uzbekistan.

The new Law on Privatization of Non-agricultural Land Plots (ZRU-522, August 13, 2019) allows private land ownership for plots that do not fall under the definition of agricultural land by the Land Code of Uzbekistan. Land ownership is granted only to entities and individuals who are residents of Uzbekistan. Foreign citizens and entities do not have land property rights in Uzbekistan. Effective March 1, 2020, Uzbekistan residents can privatize:

  • Land plots of entities, on which their buildings, structures and industrial infrastructure facilities are located, as well as the land extensions necessary for their business activities;
  • Land plots provided to citizens for individual housing construction and maintenance;
  • Unoccupied land plots;
  • Land plots allocated to the Urban Development Fund under the Ministry of Economy and Industry.

The following types of land cannot be privatized:

  • Land plots located in territories that are not covered by officially documented layout plans.
  • Land plots that contain mineral deposits or state property of strategic importance. The list of such land plots shall be specified by appropriate legislation.
  • Land plots reserved for environmental, recreational, and historical-cultural purposes, state owned land and water resources, and public areas of cities and towns (e.g. squares, streets, roads, boulevards).
  • Land plots affected by hazardous substances or susceptible to biogenic contamination.
  • Land plots provided to residents of special economic zones.

However, according to Article 55 of Uzbekistan’s Constitution, the land, its subsoil, waters, flora and fauna and other natural resources are national wealth, subject to rational use and are protected by the state. The Land Code also states that the land is state property (Article 16). Contradictions in the legislation are still to be resolved.

The World Bank ranked Uzbekistan 72nd in the world in the Registering Property category of its 2020 Doing Business Report. More details can be reviewed here: https://www.doingbusiness.org/en/data/exploreeconomies/uzbekistan#DB_rp 

Land privatization is a new concept for Uzbekistan. All agricultural land in Uzbekistan is still owned by the state. As of March 1, 2020, a new law on privatization allows for the privatization of non-agricultural land plots.

Legislation governing the acquisition and disposition of immoveable property (buildings and facilities) poses relatively few problems for foreign investors and is similar to laws in other CIS countries. Immoveable property ownership is generally respected by local and central authorities. District governments have departments responsible for managing commercial real estate issues, ranging from valuations to sale and purchase of immoveable property. Legally purchased but unoccupied immoveable property can be nationalized for several reasons, including by an enforcement process of a court decision, seizure for past due debts on utility or communal services, debts for property taxes, and, in some cases, for security considerations. Unauthorized takeover of unoccupied immoveable property by other private owners (squatters) is not a common practice in Uzbekistan. Usually, authorities inspect the legitimacy of immoveable property ownership at least once every year.

Intellectual Property Rights

While the concept of registering intellectual property (IP) is still new to Uzbekistan, the GOU recognizes intellectual property rights (IPR) as critical to its economic goals. As Uzbekistan prepares for accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), its leaders have further reiterated the importance of IPR protections. In 2018 and 2019, Uzbekistan completed accession to the Geneva Phonograms Convention and two WIPO Internet Treaties. Responsibility for IPR issues lies with the formerly independent Uzbekistan Agency for Intellectual Property (AIP), which was subsumed under the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) (AIP, http://www.ima.uz/ ) in February 2019.

Uzbekistan’s Customs Code, entered into force April 2016, allows rights holders to control the importation of intellectual property goods. The Code introduced a special customs record procedure, which is based on a database of legal producers and their distributors. Uzbekistan also introduced several amendments to its IPR law, as well as amendments to civil and criminal codes meant to enforce stricter punishment for IPR violations.

Uzbekistan’s patent protections are generally sufficient, but enforcement remains one of the biggest challenges.  Foreign companies face obstacles proving IP violations and receiving compensation for losses sustained due to violations.  IP violators are rarely obligated to cease infringing activities or pay meaningful penalties.  AIP lacks any kind of enforcement power, as does the MOJ.  Enforcement is weak across different kinds of IP.  Copyright cases are almost never brought before the Antimonopoly Committee (the body responsible for responding to IP complaints) because companies makes the decision that the cost of fighting copyright violations outweighs the benefits.  Trademark cases often take years to settle in the courts, driving up costs and consuming time and resources.  For companies who cannot meet the demands of a multiyear court battle it becomes cost prohibitive to pursue action to protect their IP.

While Uzbekistan took important steps in recent years to address longstanding issues pertaining to IPR, there remain serious deficiencies in trademark and copyright protections, judicial processes related to IPR, and enforcement of actions against IPR violations and violators.

In December 2018, President Mirziyoyev signed a bill into law for Uzbekistan to accede to the Geneva Phonograms Convention. The GOU forwarded signed copies of the law to WIPO and the UN, thus completing the formal ratification of these conventions. In February 2019, the President approved adoption of two bills into the law for Uzbekistan to accede to the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performance and Phonograms Treaty (“Internet Treaties”). The GOU is working on amendments to national legislation to bring it in line with the requirements of the IPR Treaties. These measures represent the necessary short-term actions for Uzbekistan to maintain its benefits under the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences (GSP). The full list of IPR-related international agreements/treaties that Uzbekistan has acceded to is available here: https://wipolex.wipo.int/en/legislation/profile/UZ .

In April 2018, the GOU provided greater authority to a new inspectorate under the Ministry of Information Technologies and Communications to monitor compliance and enforce copyright protections on the internet. The GOU is also establishing a system of licensing for companies that sell software legally, in order to stem the flow of pirated software to the marketplace, as described in GOU Resolution #72 of 2012 (https://www.lex.uz/acts/1982899).

There are no publicly available reports on seizures of counterfeit goods in 2020. In 2020, the AIP recorded 111 cases of trademark violations and many cases of trading counterfeit goods, including about 540 cases of selling counterfeit alcohol. The agency also recorded production and sale of counterfeit Head & Shoulders products (a brand owned by Procter & Gamble) and Mars candy bars. The Board of Appeal had reviewed cases of five American companies (Colgate-Palmolive Company, Under Armour Inc., Delta Hotels by Marriott, Apple Inc., and Emerson) and issued rulings in their favor.

Under current Uzbekistani law, the court considers copyright infringement cases only after the copyright holder submits a claim of damages. Similarly, for imported products, customs officials do not have an ex-officio function, and the onus is on the rights holder to initiate an action against a suspected infringer. The Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO) has the authority to both penalize violators and order them to desist from producing, marketing, or selling infringing goods, but few cases ever make it to the PGO. The burden of proving an IP violation is so high that most cases never leave the Antimonopoly Committee or the administrative court system. While these cases are stalled in the court system, infringing companies may continue to operate without restrictions.

Uzbekistan has been on the Watch List of the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) Special 301 Report since 2000. The political will to improve IPR protection seems to exist at the highest levels of the government, but effective enforcement policies are still not in place. Although Uzbekistan has taken some important first steps to address concerns raised in previous USTR’s reports, the country will have to demonstrate measurable and sustained progress before removal from the Special 301 Watch List.Uzbekistan is not, listed in USTR’s notorious market report.

For additional information about national laws and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/ .

Investment Climate Statements
Edit Your Custom Report

01 / Select A Year

02 / Select Sections

03 / Select Countries You can add more than one country or area.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future