Cambodia Grants Validation to European Union Patents
In January 2017, the government of the Kingdom of Cambodia and the European Patent Organization (EPO) entered into an agreement on the validation of European patents. The agreement came into effect on March 1, this year and makes Cambodia the first Asian country to grant validation to European patents. Similar agreements have come into force between the EPO and Morocco, between the EPO and Moldova, and between the EPO and Tunisia in the last three years.
The validation agreement gives the European patent holder an option of requesting for validation of their patent in Cambodia. In other words, the EU patent holders can request for protection of their patent in Cambodia without requiring to file a national patent in the country.The validation will allow the European patent to have the same effect as a national Cambodian patent and the enforcement of such validated patent rights will be subject to Cambodian patent law. According to the national patent law, applicants must meet the following requirements to validate their patents in Cambodia.
- The European patent must have a filing date on or after March 1, 2018;
- The claims of the patents in Cambodia must be translated into Khmer language and submitted within six months from the filing date; and
- The European patent must meet the Cambodian requirements for the patent protected subject matter.
For European patent applicants, one of the key advantages that the validation offers is that it will now be possible for them to cover up to 44 countries – European states as well as Morocco, Moldova, Tunisia, and Cambodia – with a single European patent application. For Cambodia, it is an opportunity as the validation of EU patents offers incentives for its owners to consider investing in Cambodia. The validation agreement could significantly improve Cambodia’s competitiveness and attract more European investors.
It is, however, important to note that European patents for pharmaceutical products will not be validated in Cambodia; the country currently benefits from the World Trade Organization’s waiver that allows Least Developed Countries (LDCs), including Cambodia, to avoid granting and enforcing intellectual property rights on pharmaceutical products until 2033.
Applicants can, however, benefit from a “mailbox system” available under the agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) which authorizes the filing of patent applications for pharmaceutical products, even if they are excluded from patent protection. Under this system, applicants can file their applications which will be stored and examined only after the lifting of the exemption, which is due to run until January 1, 2033.