Indochina Updates – Developments in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos


New official fees in Vietnam to take effect from 1 January 2017

The Ministry of Finance of Vietnam has issued a Circular (No. 263/2016/TT-BTC) stipulating the official fees to be collected by the National Office of Intellectual Property of Vietnam (NOIP) for industrial property-related activities with effect from 1 January 2017. These fees will apply to patent, utility solution, industrial design, trade mark, geographical indication and integrated circuit layout design applications received by the NOIP.

In general, while many of the fee items such as the basic filing, publication and granting fees are unchanged, some fees will be significantly increased. For example, the fee for substantive examination of each embodiment of an industrial design application is expected to increase by about 67%. Renewal fees for industrial design and trade mark registrations will also go up by about 30%.

The NOIP is updating the relevant forms and finalizing the fee break-downs, to be published shortly. In the meantime, we understand that any actions taken by 31 December 2016 will be subjected to the existing fee structure. Thus, if you wish to take advantage of the lower existing fees, please send your specific instructions to your usual Spruson & Ferguson attorney contact in good time before the year end.

Cambodia joins the international patent and design filing systems

On 8 September 2016, Cambodia acceded to the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), thereby becoming the 151st contracting state. Accordingly, any PCT application filed on or after 8 December 2016 will automatically include the designation of Cambodia and, if a Chapter II Demand is filed, automatically include the election of Cambodia.

This development opens a new option for patent owners interested in securing their rights in Cambodia, in addition to filing via the Paris Convention route or registering granted Singapore patents. The latter route was shared in our earlier news update, and we are pleased to report that we have since successfully obtained grant of several such Cambodian patents.

In addition, on 25 November 2016, Cambodia deposited its instrument of accession to the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs, thus joining the growing list of contracting parties. Accordingly, the Geneva Act will enter into force in Cambodia on 25 February 2017.

Laos and Cambodia cooperate with Japan to facilitate patent grants

On 1 July 2016, the Cooperation for facilitating Patent Grant (CPG) program between the Ministry of Industry and Handicraft of Cambodia and the Japan Patent Office (JPO) was launched. On 1 November 2016, a similar program between the Department of Intellectual Property of Laos and the JPO was launched. These CPG programs allow patent owners who have obtained grant of their Japanese applications to use such favourable results to request an accelerated decision in Laos and Cambodia, which currently do not have substantive patent examination capabilities.

In order to participate in the CPG program, the Laos/Cambodia application and the corresponding Japanese application must share the same earliest date, the patent certificate from the JPO must be available and each of the claims of the Laos/Cambodia application must be amended to conform to at least one claim in the Japanese application, as granted by the JPO.

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