Latest Developments in Vietnam IP Law

The Vietnamese government has actively taken measures to ensure that the country’s IP laws are effective. They have recognized the relationship between economic development and IP protection. In fact the economic development in Vietnam is one of the most progressive one in Southeast Asia in terms of percentage growth of the GDP. So these IP efforts form part of government policies.

The Law on Intellectual Property was adopted on 19 November 2005 by the National Assembly and came into force on 1 July 2006. The Intellectual Property Law, including 6 Parts, 18 Chapters and 222 Articles, regulates copyright and related rights, inventions, industrial designs, trademarks, trade names, geographical indications, layout-designs of integrated circuits, trade secrets, rights against unfair competition, and rights to new plant varieties.

Issuance of the Recent Circular

A circular has recently been issued by the Ministry of Science and Technology (Circular No. 01/2007TT-BKHCN) in furtherance to the Decree No. 103/2006/ND-CP guiding the Intellectual Property (IP) Law on industrial property, which came into effect on 9 May 2007. It governs 67 articles, specific industrial property procedures for establishing industrial property rights, registration of contracts on industrial property rights transfer and compulsory licensing, industrial property representation and assurance of industrial property information.

Registration Procedure

General procedures for industrial property protection or registration consist of –

a) Acceptance of applications,

b) Formal examination (in one month),

c) Publication of valid applications,

d) Substantive examination (in 12 months for inventions and 6 months for other objects, except for layout designs),

e) Grant of protection titles or refusal to grant protection titles (10 days after payment of fees), recording in registers, and

f) Publication of decisions on grant of protection titles.

Under this recent Circular, titles granted by the National Office of Intellectual Property (NOIP) constitute the sole basis for proving the holders’ rights to protection of industrial property in the event of any dispute. However, registrations with the NOIP are not required for industrial property rights to well known marks, trade secrets and rights to repression of unfair competition, as, such rights are established on practical use, generation or exercise of those objects. Owners of those objects can prove their ownership by substantial evidence.

For internationally registered marks already recognized as protected in Vietnam according to previous regulations, the Official Gazette of the World Intellectual Property Organization or the Industrial Property Official Gazette of the NOIP will serve as evidence for affirmation of rights to those marks.

Other Effects of the Circular

All organizations and individuals are entitled to access information stored in the National Database on industrial property as soon as they register themselves as information users with the NOIP or request charged information search services to be provided by the NOIP.

Some other areas touched by the circular, which have far-reaching consequences are as –

1. Restoration of a lapsed patent is no longer allowable;

2. Reduction of the term to one (1) month for responding to an Office Action during examination with regard to the following scrutiny –

a) Correcting deficiencies in respect of form requirements, for example lack of unity of inventions, or

b) Claims referring to the excluded subject matter such as method for treatment of disease, or

c) The specification of invention failing to meet structure order with respect to-

  • Field of art
  • Backgrounds of art
  • Summary of invention
  • Brief description of drawings, if any
  • Detailed description of invention
  • Examples, if any
  • Effect of invention, if any
  • Claims.

These ameliorations to the current Vietnam patent regime speak positively about the country’s progress and growth in the promotion of IP protection. It will certainly be to the benefit of all IP owners to acquaint themselves with knowledge of the Vietnam IP regime.