The Intellectual Property Office of Vietnam (IP VIETNAM) is in charge of receiving and examining patent applications. The process for a patent application begins with filing the patent application with IP VIETNAM and finishes with granting a patent, if the related invention is eligible for protection.
In order to obtain the patent right in Vietnam, you must file the application for granting a Patent (for Invention and for Utility solution separately), directly or by mail, to the Intellectual Property Office of Vietnam (IP VIETNAM) or its brand offices in Ho Chi Minh City or Da Nang.
Besides, foreign applicants can also obtain a patent right in Vietnam by filing an international application which designates or selects Vietnam through the PCT system. And then, the applicant must carry out procedures for registration of an invention under the PCT’s provisions at IP VIETNAM within 31 months from the international filing date or from the priority date, if the priority right is claimed in the application.
Organizations, individuals of Vietnam, foreign individuals permanently residing in Vietnam and foreign organizations and individuals having a production or trading establishment in Vietnam may file applications for a patent either directly or through a lawful representative in Vietnam.
Foreign individuals not permanently residing in Vietnam, foreign organizations and individuals not having a production or trading establishment in Vietnam shall file applications for a patent through a lawful representative in Vietnam.
Vietnam adopts the first-to-file system, i.e. where two or more applications are filed by many different parties for registration of the same invention, the patent may only be granted to the valid application with the earliest priority or filing date among applications that satisfy all required conditions; where there are two or more applications satisfying all the conditions for the grant of patent and having the same earliest priority or filing date, the patent may only be granted to a single application out of these applications under an agreement by all applicants. Without such an agreement, all these applications shall be refused for the grant of a patent.
Accordingly, it is advisable to file an application for a patent as soon as possible after the invention and not to make the invention public before filing the application.
A patent application filed with IP VIETNAM shall be subject to formal examination for evaluating its validity.
The time limit for formality examination of an application is one (1) month from the filing date. In the course of formality examination, if the applicant corrects or supplements documents on his/her own initiative or upon the request of IP VIETNAM, the time limit for formality examination may be prolonged for a period of time during which documents are corrected or supplemented.
Before the expiration of the time limit above, IP VIETNAM shall complete the formality examination of applications and send notices on formality examination results to applicants.
If the applicant to whom IP VIETNAM has sent a notice on its intended refusal of the application fails to correct errors or unsatisfactorily corrects errors or makes no opposition or makes unreasonable opposition to the intended rejection within the set time limit, IP VIETNAM shall issue a Decision of refusal of the patent application. If the applicant does not agree with IP VIETNAM’s decision, they can appeal against it according to the appeal procedures.
The patent application accepted as valid shall be published by IP VIETNAM in its Industrial Property Official Gazette in the nineteenth (19) month from the date of priority or the filing date in case the application has no date of priority or within two (2) months after being accepted as a valid application, whichever is later for oppositions. Applicants shall pay a fee for such publication.
Patent applications under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) shall be published within two (2) months from the date it is accepted as a valid application and enters the national phase.
Patent applications containing a request for earlier publication shall be published within two (2) months from the date IP VIETNAM receives that request or the date it is accepted as a valid application, whichever is later.
An substantive examination of the application will be carried out only for which the applicant or a third party has filed a request for examination and paid the examination fees within 42 months as of the filing date or the priority date, as applicable, and the time limit for making request for substantive examination of an patent application involving a request for a utility solution patent shall be 36 months counting from the filing date or the priority date, as applicable.
Where no request for substantive examination is filed within the time limit mentioned above, the invention registration application shall be considered having been withdrawn at the expiration of that time limit.
The purpose of substantive examination of patent applications is to assess the patentability of objects claimed in the application under the requirements and corresponding protection scope.
A substantive examination will be carried out by examiners of IP VIETNAM within 18 months from the date of the request for substantive examination or the date of the application publication, depending on which comes later.
If the applicant, in the course of substantive examination, corrects or supplements documents or makes justifications on his/her own initiative or upon the request of IP VIETNAM, the time limit for substantive examination may be prolonged for a period of time during which the applicant does so.
On the date of expiration of the time limit for substantive examination of an application at the latest, IP VIETNAM shall send to the applicant one of the following notices:
If the applicant to whom IP VIETNAM has sent a notice on its intended refusal of the application fails to correct errors or unsatisfactorily corrects errors or makes no opposition or makes unreasonable opposition to the intended rejection within the set time limit, IP VIETNAM shall send a notice on its refusal of the application.
When dissatisfaction is in the decision of refusal of examiners, the applicant may appeal against the decision of refusal with Director General of IP VIETNAM or initiate lawsuits at court.
When the subject-matter claimed in the application satisfies the protection conditions, IP VIETNAM shall issue a notice on its intended grant of a patent, wherein clearly indicating the applicable fees, including the granting fee, the publication, the registration fee and the 1st annuity fee for the applicant’s payment.
Within 15 days after applicants pay fully and on time the required fees, IP VIETNAM shall carry out the procedures for granting the patent for the invention.
The Patent shall be recorded in the National Register of Inventions and the decision on granting the patent shall be published by IP VIETNAM in the Industrial Property Official Gazette within two (2) months from the date of issuance and after applicants pay a publication fee.
In light of Vietnam regulations and law, the Vietnamese translation of the patent specification must be submitted right at the filing time.