KENFOX rankings in Laos
Our firm, KENFOX IP & Law Office, has been consistently recognized as a Tier 1 law firm in the field of trademark and patent law in Laos. This recognition is based on several factors, including our in-depth expertise and knowledge of trademark law, which we have demonstrated through our successful handling of complex trademark cases. We are also recognized for our contribution to shaping trademark policy in Laos, which has helped to establish us as a leading voice in this area.
In addition, KENFOX IP & Law Office is highly regarded for the quality of its legal work, which is always focused on meeting the needs of the clients. We are committed to providing practical and effective advice on trademark issues, and we work closely with our clients to ensure that their trademark needs are met with the utmost professionalism and care.
As a result of our dedication to excellence in the field of trademark law, we are honored to have received the prestigious:
These awards are a testament to our firm’s commitment to providing exceptional service to our clients and to our ongoing efforts to maintain our position as a top-tier law firm in the region.
Patent protection plays a crucial role in fostering innovation and safeguarding intellectual property rights around the world. Laos, as a growing economy in Southeast Asia, recognizes the significance of patents and provides a legal framework for their protection. Patent registration in Laos offers numerous benefits, including exclusive rights to an invention, legal protection against infringement, and opportunities for commercialization and investment. Understanding the patent system in Laos and the significance of patent registration is essential for individuals and businesses seeking to protect their innovative creations within the country.
Laos has established a comprehensive legal framework to facilitate the protection of intellectual property rights, including patents. The primary legislation governing patent protection in Laos is the Law on Intellectual Property, which is in line with international standards and commitments. The Department of Intellectual Property (DIP), under the Ministry of Science and Technology, serves as the central authority responsible for patent registration and enforcement in the country. By seeking patent protection in Laos, inventors and businesses can secure exclusive rights to their inventions and benefit from the legal advantages it provides.
International IP Agreements to which Laos is a Contracting Party
Laos became a party to the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (Paris Convention) on October 8, 1998. Additionally, it joined the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) on June 14, 2006.
Under the Paris Convention, of which Laos is a member, patent applicants are entitled to a right of priority if the same filing has been made within 12 months in any other nation that is also a member. This provision is highly advantageous for patent owners, allowing them to file an initial application in their home country and then select additional countries for registration within a year before initiating international filings.
Under the PCT, of which Laos is a member, foreign businesses can obtain patents in Laos with relative ease. Formal examinations, searches, and publications are conducted at the WIPO’s International Bureau, simplifying the process. This mechanism allows applicants a longer period of evaluation before deciding on the countries in which to seek patent protection. By utilizing the PCT approach, applicants have up to 31 months from the date of priority (as stated in Article 6.4 of Decision No. 1714/MOST) to determine whether to file a patent application in Laos or other countries.
Patents & Petty Patents in Laos: What?
In Laos, there are two types of patents: (i) Patents and (ii) Petty Patents. Patents are official certificates issued by the state organization to protect new inventions that involve an inventive step and are capable of industrial application. Petty patents, on the other hand, are official certificates issued to protect utility innovations.
Patentable Inventions and Utility Innovation In Laos: What are requirements?
In Laos, for an invention or utility innovation to be patentable, it must fulfill 03 requirements: (i) novelty (newness), (ii) inventive step, and (iii) industrial applicability. On the other hand, for a utility innovation to be eligible for a Petty Patent, it must be derived from technical improvements and involve simpler techniques than an invention. This aims to enhance products or introduce new production methods. In detail:
An invention must satisfy 3 requirements as follows to be patented in Laos:
Requirements of Novelty: The invention must not have been created, published to the public through magazines, actual usage, or any other means in the Lao PDR or anywhere else in the world prior to filing the application for registration or before the priority date of the patent application.
Requirements of Inventive Step: The invention must not be obvious to a person with ordinary levels of knowledge and skills in the relevant field of technology. The level of inventiveness required for a petty patent is lower than that required for a patent. Specifically, an invention must involve greater inventive steps compared to previous inventions, while a utility innovation needs to have new technical improvements that involve an inventive step of lesser complexity than what is required for a patent.
The assessment of novelty shall be conducted based on whether the information regarding the invention or utility innovation has been previously disclosed to individuals or the public. This assessment needs to be performed for each claim mentioned in the application.
Disclosure Exceptions: Does Laos have a grace period? If so, how does it work?
An invention or utility innovation in Laos is not considered to have lost its novelty in Laos (i.e. it is not considered to destroy the novelty of the invention and/or utility innovation) if the information related to it is communicated or sent under binding confidentiality or unintentionally disclosed, unless such communication leads to public disclosure. Exceptions to disclosure include the following communications:
Of note, filing a patent or petty patent application in Laos or anywhere else in the world is not considered as information disclosure until the patent application is published, reviewed, or granted.
Regarding patent applications, it is important to note that the Lao IP Law does not include a 12-month grace period like some countries. However, the conditions for not losing patent novelty are limited to the five stated in Article 21 of Decision No. 1714/MOST.
Requirements of Industrial Applicability: An invention or utility innovation shall be considered industrially applicable if it can be utilized in various industrial settings, such as agriculture, fishery, services, handicraft, and more.
Exceptions To Patentability: What?
The Lao Patent Law (Article 21) sets out 4 types of unpatentable inventions, in detail:
A patent or petty patent shall be refused, in any case, if:
Patent or Petty Patent Application in Laos – What must be provided?
A patent or petty patent application in Laos must comprise 07 documents as follows:
Note that if the patent application and supporting documents are in English, they must be translated into Lao language as required by Article 37 of the Law on Intellectual Property. Failure to meet these requirements will result in the application not being considered and deemed abandoned.
The applicant for patent and petty patent rights is not required to translate certain parts of the application content, such as the names and addresses of individuals, legal entities, or organizations.
Minimum Requirements to Obtain the Filing Date of Receipt: What to provide?
You may still file a patent application in Laos, and it will be accepted, even if you do not have all the required documents, if you provide the following minimum requirements together with your patent application:
Note that the patent application submitted under the minimum requirements must be completed within 15 (fifteen) days from the date of notification.
Laos employs a first-to-file system, meaning that when two or more applications are filed for the same invention, the right to the patent will belong to the applicant who has the earliest filing or priority date.
Examination Of A Patent Application In Laos: How?
An application for a patent or petty patent filed with the DIP shall undergo two phases of examination: formality examination and substantive examination.
Formality Examination of Patent Application In Laos /Formality Office Action:
It takes 60 (sixty) days for the Department of Intellectual Property of Laos (DIP) to complete the formality examination of a patent application. During this examination, the DIP’s examiner assesses the application for completeness, accuracy, and conformity with the requirements stated in Article 31 of the Law on Intellectual Property. If the application meets the preliminary examination requirements, it will be published in the official gazette for the registration of industrial property, and no Notice of Formality Acceptance will be issued. According to Article 12 of Decision No. 1714/MOST, the publication of a patent application in Laos occurs in the 19th (nineteenth) month from the filing or priority date
If the patent application is incomplete, incorrect, or does not meet the specified requirements, the DIP will notify the applicant to provide necessary documents or correct the application within 60 (sixty) days from the date of notification. If the applicant fails to provide the requested documents or make the necessary corrections within the given time limit, the DIP will notify the applicant that the application has not been considered and will be deemed abandoned.
Substantive Examination of Patent Application In Laos /Substantive Office Action:
After the formality examination, the DIP will conduct a substantive examination of the patent application to determine whether it meets the requirements for patentability. The substantive examination for patents and petty patents is based on a search of existing technical knowledge.
In the case where the patent application had previously been subject to a search or examination by another authority (in another country), the applicant can submit a copy of that report and request that it be accepted in lieu of conducting a search in Laos.
If no previous examination reports are available or if the applicant is unable to provide such a report, the applicant must request the DIP to conduct a substantive examination of the application. It is important to note that the DIP is legally obligated to complete this examination within 32 months for an invention (patent) and 12 months for a utility innovation (petty patent) from the filing date or the priority date (if claimed). All expenses incurred by the DIP for examining the invention or utility innovation will be charged to the applicant
After reviewing and examining the patent and/or petty patent application in Laos, if it is determined to meet the requirements specified by the Lao IP Law, the DIP will issue a patent and/or petty patent.
Substantive examination report from foreign patent office or international IP Office on patent examination shall provide the following information:
If the applicant for patent or petty patent rights provides a patent examination report that has been approved and issued with a certificate by a foreign patent office or international IP office on patent examination, they must submit a copy of the communication and any modifications received during the examination, as well as the final decision along with the reasons.
In the event that there is a modification of the rights claimed, it shall not exceed the scope of the rights claimed specified in the application. If the modification exceeds the scope of the rights claimed, the applicant for a patent or petty patent shall provide additional information on the search and examination based on the rights claimed that exceed the scope of rights claimed, or request the DIP for an examination as set forth in Article 41 of the Law on Intellectual Property.
The DIP shall issue a notification specifying the reasons for refusing the application if it is found that the application does not meet the requirements of patentability. The applicant has the right to modify the application within 60 (sixty) days from the date of notification, as outlined in Article 24 and 27 of Decision No. 1714/MOST. If the applicant fails to provide the necessary information or response within the given time limit, the application shall be deemed abandoned.
If the applicant for patent or petty patent rights has provided information and responded, but the DIP determines that the provided informative document or explanation does not meet the requirements of patentability, it will issue a final rejection of the application and notify the applicant. The DIP may grant a thirty-day extension from the expiry date of the initial notification if sufficient justification is provided.
Patent opposition in Laos – What types of patent opposition procedure are available in Laos?
Laos operates a pre-grant opposition system which is available to both invention patent and utility innovation petit patent. Under Article 13 of Decision 1714/MOST, any interested party may oppose the grant of an invention (patent) or a utility innovation (petit patent) within 90 days of the application being officially published in the official gazette for the registration of industrial property.
Time-limit: You may file a Notice of Opposition to a patent or petty patent application in Laos within 90 (ninety) days from the publication date in the official gazette for industrial property registration.
Required documents: The documents must be completed using the form template provided by the DIP, and the corresponding service charge must be paid. An opposition must include the following documents: (i) A Notice of Opposition to a patent or petty patent application; (ii) supporting documents and evidence substantiating the opposition; and (iii) a payment receipt for the service charges.
Opposition proceedings: The DIP will handle a Notice of Opposition to a patent/petit patent application in the following processes:
Other ways to challenge a patent in Laos: What?
After the 90-day opposition period post publication, any interested party may need to wait until the grant of patent and/or petit patent to file a cancellation/invalidation action. A third-party observation is not available in Laos like some other countries.
Subject matter of an invention or a utility innovation shall specify the type of invention or utility innovation, such as chemical components, machines, chemical products or process or combination of various types. Subject matter of invention or utility innovation shall be short, concise and descriptive.
The background of the invention or utility innovation should describe the technical problems to be solved or improved, as well as the existing state of the art, including an explanation of related technologies and unresolved issues. This description should align with the existing technology. If the description references an invention or utility innovation, or a patent or petty patent that has already been disclosed to the public, the information should be specified.
Brief summary of an invention or a utility innovation shall briefly describe the type of invention or utility innovation, areas of technology and technical problems to be solved or improved.
Claims: Claims aims at identifying the legal scope of rights of the applicant towards the patent or petty patent. Therefore, claims must be carefully drafted to specifically identify only components of invention or utility innovation. Claims shall be in conformity with the invention or utility innovation as specified in the description, terms and wordings used in the claim application shall be included in the description in order to be able to refer to the definitions of the terms and wordings in the claim and description. Claims can be made for more than one subject matter, in which each subject matter must be different as much as possible, and adding incorrect subject matter is not allowed. The related fees, if any, have to be paid, and if the claim has more than one subject matter, the serial number is required. In the event that the claim has many components or procedures, it shall separate each component or procedure into rows by indenting to make it easy for application examination. A claim with one or more subject matter can be made in independent way or by referring to other claim in the same application. The independent claim means the scope of all rights of the related claims in an independent way. If multiple claims are made, the claim with the narrowest scope shall be designated as the first claim, and independent claims shall be grouped within the same class. The claim shall be presented in a more polite or request manner, such as “I would like to make a claim” or “invention or utility innovation that are claimed are as follows:” The terms used shall not be deemed as part of the claim.
Basic form for independent claim is a claim that is not related to other claims as described below:
Generally, one application for a patent or petty patent can have three independent claims and fifteen dependent claims. In the event the improvement or modification of the application causes additional claims which are more than the number of claims specified in the original application, the applicant shall pay the related fees for the additional claims. The applicant for a patent or petty patent can modify the claim at any time during the application is under the consideration process. The modification shall not be beyond the scope of information disclosure specified in the description. The claim in the original application is deemed to be a part of the information disclosure.
Abstract: The abstract shall contain technical information, but it shall not be deemed to be a part of the information disclosure or be a scope of rights to protect. Generally, the abstract relates to the claim and is for the Department of Intellectual Property and the public to understand the concept of the inventor by way of disclosure of technical information.
Drawings: The applicant for a patent or petty patent shall provide drawings when necessary to create an understanding about the invention or utility innovation. The drawings shall not have only a picture of the invention or utility innovation, or part of it, but it shall have other pictures to help the understanding of the invention or utility innovation, such as an electric design of the invention, a drawing of the chemical structure of the chemical components, graphics, or measurement of operation of the invention or utility innovation. The drawing shall draw after the principles of drawing to be used in each area.
The applicant for a patent or utility patent shall choose the drawing based on the detail of the invention or utility patent, but he/she shall provide different angles as necessary to show the detail of the invention or utility innovation. The general angles that are accepted are as follows:
In event that the application has many drawings, it shall briefly explain about the different angles of the drawings. The detailed description of the invention or utility innovations shall be based on the different angles of the drawing by indicating the number at each point. Generally, it shall follow the principles of drawing for each area of technology, such as symbols and components of drawing in line with common principles applied in various sectors such as chemical,
electronic, mechanical and bio-technological principles. In the event that the substance of the application relates to an improvement of the invention or utility innovation, the drawing shall show the improvement and relationship between the improvement and the existing technology.
Amending A Patent Application in Laos: When?
It is statutorily possible modify a patent application in Laos at any time during the period where the patent application is examined; however, it shall be done before approval, abandonment, final refusal or termination of the consideration of the application.
The modification must not present new technical information that has not been provided in the original application. New technical information is defined as “the presentation of information that has not yet been disclosed in the original application for a patent or petty patent submitted”. The information may consist of adding, scope setting or substantive modification of the description, claims or drawings that are presented in the application.
Dividing A Patent Application in Laos: How and When?
Any application for a patent or petty patent can be divided into two or more applications at any time by submitting a request before registration, abandonment, final refusal, or before the end of the
considerations of the application and shall mention in a request that the application is divided from the original application.
Each divided application shall refer to the original application by identifying the number and filing date of the original application.
The original application shall be modified but not beyond the scope of substantive disclosure before the division. The divided application shall be submitted along with the modified original application. Each divided application is entitled to obtain the date of filing based on the original application and shall pay the relevant official fees and service charges.
Divided application can be modified from the application for a patent to the application for a petty patent or vice versa. The application that has modified the type of protection is entitled to obtain the date of filing or priority date (if any). In the event that the application has been changed from a patent to petty patent, the paid fees and service charges will not be refundable. For changing from application for a petty patent to the application for a patent shall have to pay additional fees and service charges the same as the fees and service charges of a general application for a patent.
Grant of Patent or Petty Patent Rights in Laos: When?
If a patent application meets requirements for granting patent or petty patent in Laos, the DIP shall notify the applicant thereabout, as well as notify the applicant to pay relevant fees. After all the fees are paid, the DIP shall grant the patent or utility patent, and document the related information in the register and database of the DIP.
Publication of the Patent or Petty Patent
Publications of patents in Laos has been made in two times, in detail:
First, after the patent application is accepted as to form, the DIP shall publish the application in the official gazette for registration of industrial property. Per Article 12 of Decision No. 1714/MOST, the publication of a patent application in Laos will be made in the 19th (nineteenth) month from the date of filing or date of priority.
Second, after the patent or petit patent is granted, the DIP will enter the registration in the registrar and publish the registration on the official industrial property gazette. If the publication contains incorrect information from the applicant or the Department of Intellectual Property, the applicant can request the DIP to publish the revised information. The request shall be made within 60 (sixty) days from the first date of publication and be free of service charges. If beyond the period, the DIP will not take it into consideration.
Patent Opposition in Laos: What, When and How?
Entitlement: Any third party is statutorily entitled to file a Notice of Opposition to a pending patent application in Laos after such patent application is published in the official gazette for registration of industrial property in Laos.
Deadline: A Notice of Opposition must be filed with the DIP within 90 (ninety) days from the publication date in the official gazette for the registration of industrial property.
Required documents: The documents shall be completed according to the form template provided by the DIP and service charge paid, and the request for opposition to a patent or petty patent application shall comprise the following documents:
(i) A Notice of Opposition to a patent or petty patent application;
(ii) Supporting documents and evidence clarifying the opposition;
(iii) A notarized Power of Attorney, if a Notice of Opposition is filed through an IP agent.
(iv) Payment receipt of service charges
Opposition handling processes: The opposition to a patent or petty patent application shall be taken into consideration as follows:
If any party is not satisfactory with the DIP’s ruling, he/she can make request to the Committee of the Department of Intellectual Property of Final Consideration within 60 (sixty) days from the date of notification
Appealing the DIP’s decision: When?
If the DIP rejects an invention patent or utility innovation petty patent application, the applicant may appeal the rejection to the DIP within 60 days of the office action.
Post-Procedures of the Grant of Patent or Petty Patent Rights in Laos
Recordal of patent holder’s name/address change in Laos: How?
In case the patent holder’s name/address has been changed, it is possible to request the DIP to record such change. To this end, a Statutory Statement which must be notarized is required. The DIP shall record all changes in the database, document the registration and publish in the official gazette for the registration of industrial property.
Duplicate (re-issuance or re-grant) of the Patent or Petit Patent: How?
The patent or petit patent owner can request the DIP to issue a duplicate of their Patent or Petit Patent in two circumstances as follows:
Further, the DIP can also request the applicant of the dossier/document which has been damage or lost to send a copy of the relevant documents or records of correspondences with DIP as well as to verify the accuracy and completeness of such copies, including the documents or dossier related to correspondence with the DIP that has not been recorded but of which the patent and petty patent registration applicant or a dossier owner is aware so that DIP will duplicate a dossier/document.
Patent cancellation in Laos: What?
Grounds for cancelling validity of patents and petty patents in Laos:
Special attention should be paid to the 4th ground of patent cancellation/invalidation. After registration, you should use your patent or petty patent in commercial activities in Laos. Otherwise, third parties can submit a cancellation request (within 5 years of the publication date of the registration) to terminate your patent or petty patent on the grounds that you have failed to exploit it commercially
A patent and/or petit patent in Laos may be cancelled in two circumstances as follows:
Proactive patent cancellation by the DIP: If the DIP has considered that existing or provided information by a third-party evidence that the patent or petty patent information is false or misleading, conceals information or shows any actions that violate or contradict the law during the application review, if the information is confirmed, the DIP shall undertake administrative cancellation of the patent or petit patent.
The DIP shall notify the applicant for a patent or utility patent, the assignee of a patent or utility
patent, immediately about the cancellation procedure. If the applicant disagrees with the cancellation of DIP, the applicant can submit a request to the Committee of Final Consideration for final administrative consideration, or the applicant can submit a request to the Lao People’s Court.
The DIP will not provide any recommendations on the possibility that any application will be cancelled or on any other procedure and the DIP will not give any legal advice to the applicant for reason or certain evidence to support the application.
Patent cancellation at the request of a third party: A third party can submit a request for cancellation or elimination with the DIP within 05 (five) years from the date of publication in the official gazette on the registration of industrial property. Submitting the request for cancellation or elimination of the patent or petty patent shall follow the template of the DIP and the service charges must be paid.
The DIP shall notify the owner of a patent or petty patent when it has received the request for cancellation or demolishment from the third party.
The owner of a patent or petty patent can submit clarification to the DIP within sixty days from the
date of notification of the DIP.
The DIP shall issue a patent or petty patent cancellation or demolishment certificate and shall notify the owner of the patent or petty patent. If the owner has no clarifications, it is considered that the owner consents to the cancellation or demolishment of his/her patent or petty patent.
A court in Laos involved in a patent cancellation: How?
After five years from the date of publication, the third party can submit a request for cancellation or demolishment with the People’s Court to proceed with the request.
The DIP shall cancel or demolish the patent or petty patent if the third-party files a lawsuit with the Lao People’s Court and the court makes a final judgment to cancel or demolish the patent or petty patent.
The DIP shall notify the owner and the requesting person the cancellation or demolishment certificate of the patent or petty patent.
Term of Protection and Maintenance of the Protection Period for Patents and Petit Patents in Laos
A patent in Laos has a protection period of 20 (twenty) years from the filing date of the application.
In order to maintain the protection period of the patent, the patent owner must pay annual advance fees and service charges. Fee for maintaining the protection period of the patent for the first 04 (four) years is included in the fee and service charge when filing a patent application.
The owner shall pay official fee and service charge for maintaining the protection period from the 5th (fifth) year onward.
A petty patent has a protection period of 10 (ten) years from the filing date of application.
In order to maintain the protection period of the petty patent, the petit patent owner must pay annual advance fees and service charges. Fee for maintaining the protection period of the petty patent for
the first year is included in the fee and service charge when filing a petit patent application.
The owner shall pay fee and service charge for maintaining the protection period from the second year onward.
Before expiry date each year, the patent or petty patent owner can pay official fee and service charges for maintaining the advance protection period within 06 (six) months. The DIP will not issue the notification to the owner to pay the official fee and service charge. The DIP will only notify the owner that the patent or petty patent is expired as no advance official fee and service charge has been paid.
If the owner does not pay official fee and service charge within the given time, the DIP can extend the time for 06 (six) months from the expiry date of the protection period, but the owner has to pay fines for the delay.
Patent assignment in Laos: What?
The patent or petty patent owner in Laos can transfer his/her rights, partly or wholly, to individuals, legal entity or organization through entering agreements, inheritance or as gift.
If the patent or petty patent right is assigned, the assignor or the assignee must file a request for recordal of patent/petit patent assignment with the DIP. If the assignee is a person who notifies the assignment, he/she shall send the document to the assignor.
Information on right transfer to publish in the Official Gazette for the registration of industrial property are as follows:
– Name and address of the assignee;
– Number of the certificate of transfer;
– Number of the Application for a Patent or Petty Patent;
– Date of the assignment.
If there is a transfer of ownership of a legal entity or an organization related to the patent or petty patent, it shall comply with the requirements set forth in the transfer document. If not otherwise specified, the transfer of such an ownership of a legal entity or an organization is considered a transfer of a total right of such a patent and petty patent of such a legal entity or organization.
Where there is a need for clarification or a doubt, the DIP may notify the person, the legal entity or the organization that notifies an assignment to provide additional information and documents.
An assignment will not take effect against the parties unless the parties have notified a transfer of such a right and such a right has been registered with the DIP.
Acceleration programmes to facilitate the granting of patent applications in Laos: What?
Laos’s patent system is at a primitive stage, with Lao IP Law No. 38/NA of 2017 and Decision No. 1714/MOST of 2020 on Patents and Petty Patents. However, in recent years, Lao has built a solid reputation for itself when making efforts to accelerate patent examination for patent application in Laos.
A patent application in Laos can be accelerated in several ways as follows:
Accelerating patent examination by using the ASEAN Patent Examination Co-operation (ASPEC)
ASEAN Patent Examination Co-operation (ASPEC) is the first regional patent work-sharing programme among 9 (nine) participating ASEAN Member States (AMS) IP Offices of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. The purpose of this programme is to share search and examination results between the participating offices to allow applicants in participating countries to obtain corresponding patents faster and more efficiently. The programme will potentially reduce duplication on the search and examination work done, thereby saving time and effort. Additionally, search and examination work done on a corresponding application serves as a useful reference in producing quality reports.
You may consider using ASPEC if you have corresponding patent applications at any 2 participating IP Offices and one of the offices has issued an examination report indicating at least one allowable claim. The participating IP Office that issued the examination report is the “first IP Office”. Under PCT-ASPEC, the ASEAN ISA/IPEA that issued the international preliminary examination report/written opinion is the first IP Office. The participating IP Office where the ASPEC Request Form is filed is the “second IP Office”.
Applicants may use the search and examination (“S&E”) reports of participating IP Offices to accelerate the patenting process in any one of the other participating IP Offices.
From 27 August 2019, applicants can enjoy 2 new features under ASPEC:
As of 15 June 2021, as an alternative to the final search and examination (“S&E“) reports, applicants may also use the written opinion (a non-final assessment of novelty, inventive step, and industrial applicability) established by the First IP Office to request ASPEC before the Second IP Office, provided that the Written Opinion acknowledges at least one allowable claim. The sole exception is the Thai IP Office, which continues to accept only final search and examination results in ASPEC requests. Applicants will no longer be required to address any objections raised by the First IP Office, wait for the final examination report to be issued, and then file an ASPEC request with the Second IP Office. Instead, they may file an earlier ASPEC request with the Second IP Office, accompanied by a Written Opinion from the First IP Office, even if not all of the claims are allowed.
A patent applicant may submit a request in Laos under the ASPEC program if:
Accelerating patent examination by using the Cooperation for facilitating Patent Grant (CPG) between JAPAN and LAOS
CPG is a framework based on an agreement between the Japan Patent Office (JPO) and other foreign intellectual property (IP) offices. In accordance with the CPG, when patent applications have been examined and granted at the JPO, patent rights will also be given to equivalent applications filed in other contracting offices without conducting substantive examinations if applicants so request.
Applicants who are rights holders of patents registered at the JPO might acquire patent rights for the identical inventions at other IP offices ratifying the CPG agreement earlier by utilizing the CPG.
In light of the foregoing, applicants who have patents granted by the Japan Patent Office (JPO) can request accelerated decisions on patents in Laos with the Department of Intellectual Property (DIP), Ministry of Science and Technology (from 28 April 2021, it has been renamed to MOIC – Ministry of Industry and Commerce), under the CPG of Laos-related patent applications that use examination results of patent applications filed with JPO.
Requirements for Making Requests (Eligibility Requirements):
(a) Both the DIP patent application on which the CPG is requested and the Japanese patent application (hereinafter referred to as “the corresponding JPO patent application”) forming the basis of the CPG request shall have the same earliest date with a priority date or a filing date.
(b) The corresponding JPO patent application has been granted by the JPO.
(c) All the claims in the DIP patent application requesting accelerated patent decision based on the CPG have been amended as required, so that the claims are the same as one or more claims in the corresponding JPO patent application granted by the JPO.
The following documents (a) to (c) must be submitted when requesting the CPG:
In the case where the DIP patent application requesting accelerated patent decision based on the CPG does not meet item (c) of paragraph 1 (“Requirements for Making Requests”), applicants must submit the amendment of the claims to meet the requirement
Accelerating patent examination by using the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Intellectual Property Cooperation signed between China and Laos
The purpose of the MOU signed between the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) and Lao DIP is to help patent applicants who own valid Chinese patents may request accelerated decisions on patents in Laos for patent applications which they have filed with Lao DIP. Under the MoU, Lao DIP would recognize the patent examination results made by CNIPA.
Requirements for Making Requests (Eligibility Requirements):
a. The Chinese and the Lao patent applications are related, i.e. they have the same earliest priority date (whether this be a priority date or filing date).
Note: The Chinese patent and the Lao patent application are deemed related under many circumstances. For example, the Chinese patent is a priority claimed by the Lao patent application, the Lao patent application is a priority claimed by the Chinese patent, the Chinese patent and the Lao patent application claim a same priority, the Chinese patent and the Lao patent application are different national phases of a same PCT application, etc.
b. The claims of the Lao patent application are the same as one or more claims in the corresponding Chinese patent application granted by the CNIPA.
Note: Applicants are allowed to delete a part of the claims that were granted by the CNIPA (The rest claims will be still considered to be “the same”). However, a claim in the Lao patent application which introduces a new/different category of claims to those claims granted by the CNIPA is not considered as being the same.
The following documents must be submitted to the DIP when requesting an accelerating a Chinese patent in Laos:
Re-register a Singapore Patent in Laos by using the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Intellectual Property Cooperation signed between Singapore and Laos
Lao DIP and the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on IP cooperation to allow Singapore-granted patents to be re-registered in Laos. In accordance with the MoU, the DIP can now grant quality patents in Laos based on the search and examination done by IPOS, and Singapore-granted patents can now be re-registered in Laos without being subjected to a local search and examination.
Requirements for Making Requests (Eligibility Requirements):
The following documents must be submitted to the DIP if a Singapore patent owner wishes to have his patent to be re-registered in Laos:
For more details, please visit our article at: https://kenfoxlaw.com/guidelines-to-re-register-a-singapore-patent-in-laos
Timeline for a patent to be granted in Laos: How long?
In a straightforward case, the period from filing to grant is approximately 03 (three) to 05 (five) years for an invention patent, and 02 (two) to 03 (three) years for a utility innovation petit patent.
The entire process from filing to grant may cost up to $2,000-5,000 or more subject to various factors.
Patent enforcement in Laos
The most effective ways for a patent owner to enforce its rights in Laos: What?
Generally, a patent infringement or disputes may be settled in Laos under 6 ways as provided under Article 127 of Lao IP Law as follows:
Reconciliation: In Laos, the parties may reconcile with regard to IPR violations. The agreement resulting from the reconciliation shall adhere to contracting principles as provided for in the Law on Contract and Tort.
Mediation: In Laos, the parties may choose the mediation form to resolve their dispute at any time in accordance with laws and regulations.
Administrative Remedies: In Laos, the parties may purpose to the intellectual property administration authority for dispute resolution relating to intellectual property in accordance with laws.
A dispute that can be remedied in administrative means shall be any dispute relating to registration of industrial properties, new plant varieties and provision of information related to copyright and related rights.
Remedy through Economic Dispute Resolution Committee: In Laos, the parties may request the economic Dispute Resolution Committee at any time to resolve their intellectual property dispute in accordance with the Law on Economic Dispute Resolution and other relevant laws and regulations.
Judicial Actions to People’s Court: In Laos, the parties may file an action to the People’s Court to decide on intellectual property dispute in accordance with laws and regulations.
International Dispute Settlement: In Laos, the intellectual property dispute settlement of international nature shall be proceeded in accordance with international conventions and agreements to which the Lao PDR is a party.
In practice, most patent infringement cases in Laos can be settled firstly by sending a cease and desist letter or proposing a patent licence to the infringer.
Alternatively, a patent owner can enforce its patent rights through criminal and civil proceedings. However, up to now, no patent infringement cases heard by Laotian courts have been reported.
The stages in the litigation process leading up to a full trial: What?
In general, the following stages occur before a full trial:
Delaying the proceedings in Laos: How?
The defendant may attempt to delay proceedings by requesting extensions of individual deadlines or unreasonable postponements of hearing, or by raising procedural issues concerning the handling of the case that require decisions by the court. The plaintiff can oppose any such request, and the court will then consider whether the request is reasonable.
Challenging the validity of a patent through the courts in anticipation of a potential suit for infringement being issued against it: How?
A party anticipating an infringement suit would typically attempt to challenge the validity of the patent at issue before the DIP by filing a patent invalidity case and become a plaintiff. While this would not prevent an infringement suit, the Laotian court would usually consider the invalidity case first before making a decision in the infringement suit.
In case an infringement suit has already been initiated, the defendant can claim in its defence that the patent is being considered for invalidation/cancellation. The defendant can file a counterclaim for patent invalidity with the court alongside the answer to the infringement complaint, and serve a copy of the counterclaim on the plaintiff. The plaintiff must file an answer to the counterclaim with the court and serve a copy of the answer on the defendant. Alternatively, the defendant may file an invalidity action against the plaintiff’s patent to bring about a new suit. The judge appointed in the infringement case is usually also appointed in the invalidity case and, after consulting with the parties, may decide to merge the cases.
Applying a doctrine of equivalents: How?
At present, there is no statutory provision concerning the application of the doctrine of equivalents in Laos. In addition, no precedent case on patent infringement has been heard. As such, the doctrine of equivalents may not be adopted to handle patent infringement in Laos.
Obtaining preliminary injunctions in Laos: What circumstances?
Preliminary injunctions are available under Article 144 of Laotian IP Law. A patent owner may apply to the court for an injunction if there is clear evidence that a person has committed or is about to commit an infringing act. In detail, an individual, legal entity or organization may file a complaint requesting the People’s Court to order prompt and effective provisional measures to:
To request a court in Laos to award a preliminary injunction, an application for a preliminary injunction (i.e. a provisional measure) shall be required to:
Laotian courts consider decisions in cases involving similar issues from other jurisdictions: How?
Foreign court decisions in similar cases are generally unenforceable in Laos, but may be recognised as proof of a claim adjudicated abroad.
A successful party in Laos obtains costs from the losing party: How?
Yes; however, the value of the costs is at the judge’s discretion. A defendant may request the Laotinal People’s Court to order a party at whose request measures were taken and who has abused enforcement procedures to provide to a party wrongfully enjoined or restrained with compensation including expenses in connection with the legal action, which may include attorney’s fees for the injury suffered because of such abuse
Typical remedies granted to a successful plaintiff: What?
In the court proceedings in Laos, the plaintiff may request the People’s Court to:
In considering requests under items 7 and 8 above, the People’s Court shall take into account for proportionality between the seriousness of the infringement and the remedies ordered as well as the interests of third parties.
Damages: How are damages calculated? Are punitive damages available?
The court generally awards only the actual damages suffered as a result of the infringing activities. Per Article 141 of Laotian IP Law, the People’s Court shall set damage awards in an amount sufficient to compensate the party making the claim for its losses and to deprive the infringer or other violator of any profit from its unlawful act. The People’s Court may order recovery of profits and/or payment of damages even where the infringer did not knowingly, or with reasonable grounds to know, engage in infringing activity
Punitive damages are not available in Laos.