Jurisdiction - Vietnam
Reports and Analysis
Vietnam – Accelerated Patent Examination For Pharmaceutical Patents.

9 May, 2014

 

 

In Vietnam, there appears to be a trend that patent examination is taking longer than in the past, especially in relation to patent applications in the pharmaceutical sector. For example, in 2009, the average patent was granted within 37 months after examination was requested. However, as of early 2014, the average examination period is now nearly 50 months. This is due to a large backlog at the Vietnam National Office of Intellectual Property (NOIP). The delays in patent examination in the pharmaceutical sector have been mentioned as a trade issue in the context of Free Trade Agreements that Vietnam is now negotiating. 


The average examination times over the past few years, based on a recent study by Tilleke & Gibbins,* are summarized below:

 

Year of Patent Grant Average Examination Time
2009 37 Months
2010 42 Months
2011 40 Months
2012 41 Months
2013 50 Months

 

* Based on sample of 50 pharmaceutical patents granted in each respective year.

 

Under Vietnam’s patent regulations, a communication regarding the patentability assessment for a patent application will be issued 18 months from the starting date of examination. In many cases, a second communication will subsequently be issued. It is understood that a second communication (if any) for a patentability assessment of a patent application will be issued 12 months from the date of responding to the first communication. However, the recent study by Tilleke & Gibbins for 2009-2013 indicated that the average examination time is 42 months over the last five years. 


Vietnam has regulations on accelerated patent examination (See Point 9.3 of Circular No. 01/2007/TT-BKHCN, issued on 14 February 2007 by the Ministry of Science and Technology, as amended on 30 July 2010 and 22 July 2011). Specifically, an “[a]pplicant may request the NOIP to implement procedures before deadlines by submitting a request and paying fees in accordance with regulations. In the event that the NOIP does not accept such request, it shall inform the applicant and clearly set forth the reason thereof.” 


However, more commonly, patent examination is accelerated through informal practices. In particular, once a corresponding patent has been granted in a major jurisdiction such as in the EU, USPTO or Japan Patent Office, the examiner can be contacted and the applicant can request to “conform” the Vietnamese claims to the claims of the granted foreign patent. If the examiner agrees, an amendment can be filed to conform the claims accordingly. The amendment will then be entered by the examiner, and the examination can proceed in a more expeditious manner. The NOIP appreciates this process as a means to help reduce its backlog and to aid in efficient examination

 

Tilleke & Gibbins T&G - Stylized

 

For further information, please contact:

 

Thomas J. Treutler, Partner, Tilleke & Gibbins

thomas.t@tilleke.com

 

Tilleke & Gibbins IP Practice Profile in Vietnam

 

 

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