1. Which agency is in charge of receiving and examining patent applications?
The Intellectual Property Office of Vietnam (IP Vietnam) is in charge of receiving and examining patent applications. The process for a patent applications begins with filing the patent application with IP Vietnam and finishes with granting a patent, if the related invention is eligible for protection.
2. How can the applicant file a patent application?
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. 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.
3. Who can file patent applications?
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.
4. What is Vietnam’s filing system?
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.
5. How does the formality examination take place?
A patent application filed with the 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 the 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, the IP Vietnam shall complete the formality examination of applications and send notices on examination results to applicants.
6. What if the application is refused as to its formality?
If the applicant to whom the 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, the IP Vietnam shall send a notice on its refusal of the application and, upon the applicant’s request, refund the paid fees and charges for jobs to be done after the formality examination.
The applicant and all organizations and individuals having rights and interests directly related to decision may lodge complaints with the Director General of IP Vietnam or initiate a lawsuit at court if they disagree with this decision within 90 days from the date the person having the right to complaint receives the notice of this decision.
Within 10 days from the date of receipt of a complaint about the decision of refusal, IP Vietnam shall issue a notice of acceptance or rejection of such complaint, clearly stating the reason(s) for rejection.
Upon the expiration of the time limit for settlement of the complaint about the decision concerning the patent application (the 1st complaints), if the complaint is not settled or complainants disagree with complaint-settling decisions of the IP Vietnam, the complainants or persons having rights and interests directly related to the decision may further lodge their complaints (the 2nd complaints) to the Minister of Science and Technology or initiate lawsuits at court within 30 days from the date of expiration of the time limit for settlement of the 1st complaint if by that date the 1st complaint is not settled, or from the date the person having the right to complaint receives or knows about the decision on settlement of the 1st complaint. Upon the expiration of the time limit for settlement of the 2nd complaint above or if the complainant disagree with complaint-settling decisions of the Minister of Science and Technology, such complainant or person may initiate lawsuits at court.
7. When is a valid patent application published?
The patent application accepted as valid shall be published by the 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 and comments of third parties. 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 the IP Vietnam receives that request or the date it is accepted as a valid application, whichever is later.
8. When must a request for substantive examination be filed to the IP Vietnam?
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.
9. How does the substantive examination take place?
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 the 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 the 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, the IP Vietnam shall send to the applicant one of the following notices:
If the applicant to whom the 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, the 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.
10. Which kinds of fees must be paid upon a notification on intended grant of patent issued by the IP Vietnam?
As mentioned in the Item (8), if the patent is granted, the IP Vietnam shall request the applicant to pay the fee for the grant of a patent, the fee for notification of the patent grant decision, the registration fee and the fee for maintenance of the first year’s validity of the patent.
11. When is a Patent issued?
Within 10 days after applicants pay fully and on time the fees and charges, the IP Vietnam shall carry out the procedures for granting the patent for the invention.
12. How is the Patent recorded?
The Patent shall be recorded in the National Register of Inventions and the decision on granting the patent shall be published by the IP Vietnam in the Industrial Property Official Gazette within two (2) months from the date of issuance and after applicants pay a publication fee.
13. Is there any online database available to check Vietnam patents? If there is, can you please provide us with a link from which we can check it?
You may check patents in Vietnam at the IPLib online database of the Intellectual Property Office of Vietnam (IP Vietnam): http://iplib.noip.gov.vn
14. As filing the patent in Vietnam, must we submit the Vietnamese draft at first filing?
In light of Vietnam regulations and law, the Vietnamese translation of the patent specification must be submitted right at the filing time. However, in urgent cases, we may facilitate to obtain approval for extension of time for submitting such translation (with certain surcharges on a case basis).