Singapore and Vietnam Sign MOU on Intellectual Property

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Singapore and Vietnam committed to greater collaboration on intellectual property (IP) utilization and protection in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed on Wednesday, July 2. The two countries signed the agreement during the four-day 44th Asean Working Group on Intellectual Property Cooperation (AWGIPC) meeting in Ho Chih Minh City this week.

The agreement between the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) and National Office of Intellectual Property of Vietnam (NOIP) promises to further promote IP use and to provide greater support for businesses seeking IP protection in both countries. In a press statement, IPOS said the MOU covered partnership in quality administration and capacity building, technology transfer and commercialization, IP valuation, as well as promotion of IP to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and the public.

“Singapore is Vietnam’s second largest Foreign Direct Investment partner, and this MOU will serve to further enhance trade relations between our countries,” said Ta Quang Minh, Director General of Vietnam’s NOIP. “IP is taking up an increasingly larger proportion of our companies’ assets, rendering IP protection and utilization integral to fostering domestic and international investment.”

Established in 1996, the AWGIPC is a regional platform for IP offices around the region to collaborate and cultivate a business-friendly IP environment in Southeast Asia, a region home to 630 million people. Since 2011, the AWGIPC has been guided by the ASEAN Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Action Plan 2011-2015, which provides the roadmap for an innovative and competitive region as part of the larger ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) 2015 blueprint.

This week’s AWGIPC meeting was encouraged by the progress of various initiatives under the Action Plan, the statement said. For example, the ASEAN Patent Examination Co-operation (ASPEC) program, launched in 2009 to raise efficiency and lower costs of obtaining a patent in the region, has produced positive results. Under the program, information sharing between ASEAN IP Offices has ensured all ASPEC patent applications are addressed within six months of filing.

“ASEAN has made notable progress in improving its IP ecosystem and is fast becoming a business-friendly region,” the statement said.

At the meeting, Singapore and Vietnam agreed to expand engagement with the ASEAN Intellectual Property Association, a non-profit group of  individuals and organizations relating to IP issues, to better understand the challenges faced by the IP community in the region. Country representatives also looked into initiatives to promote IP and to facilitate member states’ entrance into the Madrid Protocol, the international system for trademark registration. Currently, of the 10 ASEAN states, only Singapore, Vietnam and the Philippines are members.

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