In 2019, IP Viet Nam received 93,909 applications of all kinds (41,357 protection titles/applications), including 14,820 applications filed online through the public service e-portal, specifically:
- 65,425 applications for registration of industrial property rights, including: 7,520 applications for patents (4,254 applications filed online); 599 for utility solutions (121 online); 3,491 for industrial designs (502 online); 53,801 for trademarks (5,147 online); 14 for geographical indications; 282 for international applications originated from Viet Nam (24 for patents; 258 for trademarks);
The interface of the WIPO PUBLISH search engine
- The number of other requests was 28,484, involving 41,357 subjects which were protection titles/applications, including 2,069 requests for application amendments/3,787 applications (185 online requests); 867 requests for application transfers/ 1,273 applications (82 online requests); 1,876 requests for re-grants/duplicates of protection titles (213 online requests); 5,411 requests for renewals of protection titles/10,245 protection titles (813 online requests); 2,500 requests for amendments of protection titles/5,989 protection titles (187 online requests); 9,829 requests for maintenance of protection titles’ validity (2,999 online requests); 1,340 requests for assignment of protection titles/2,982 protection titles (120 online requests); 198 requests for license of IP rights/417 protection titles (one online request); 413 requests for termination/cancellation of protection titles/423 protection titles; 872 requests for appeals; 10 requests for searches; 1,418 requests for opposition of granting protection titles/1,788 applications (194 online requests) and 1,565 other requests.
Protection titles granting
In 2019, IP Viet Nam granted 33,924 IP protections, including 2,620 patents; 302 utility solutions; 2,172 industrial designs; and 28,820 national trademark registrations; 10 geographical indication registrations. IP Viet Nam also conducted a preliminary examination of 24 international applications for patents of Vietnamese origin.
TABLE 1. NUMBER OF APPLICATIONS RECEIVED, PROCEESSED AND OBTAINED PROTECTION TITLES OF 2019 COMPARISION WITH 2018
HANDLING OF APPLICATIONS FOR INVENTIONS
In 2019, the number of applications for inventions/utility solutions filed with IP Viet Nam increased by 23% compared to 2018. It shows increased demand from research institutions, businesses and researchers in registration for invention/utility solution protection not only to protect but also to promote the application and license of their creativity. To speed up the handling of applications for inventions/utility solutions, the Patent Examination Center (PEC) focused on improving and optimising the examination process. These improvements were mainly in two aspects: firstly, clear identification of requirements aiming towards simplifying formality examination and differing norms in handling different types of Vietnamese and foreign applications; secondly, based on the increase of responsibilities of examiners, clear identification of requirements and responsibilities of related levels of examination result approval.
Officials of Patent Examination Center (PEC)
In addition to such measures related to mechanisms and policies, the centre held a workshop titled "Current situation and solutions to improve the capacity of handling invention/utility solution applications" to share professional experience and propose recommendations/solutions to improve examination capacity. Consequently, the centre achieved certain results in improving productivity of handling applications, such as the number of handled applications with examination ending of 2019 was 6,182, of which 4,023 applications were for invention/utility solution protection, and 296 requests for amendment and license of invention applications.
In the near future the PEC plans to review difficulties and shortcomings for amending the Examination Manual to comply with the revision of the Intellectual Property Law, to develop a quality management mechanism to ensure both productivity and quality of work, to timely process requests for Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) according to the Memorandums of Cooperation between IP Viet Nam and JPO, and between IP Viet Nam and KIPO as well as requests filed under the ASEAN Patent Examination Co-operation (ASPEC) Programme, especially requests filed by Vietnamese applicants to contribute to socio-economic development in Industry 4.0.
HANDLING OF APPLICATIONS FOR INDUSTRIAL DESIGNS
Despite difficulties relating to infrastructure and and human resources, in 2019, the Industrial Design Examination Center conducted a relatively significant amount of work. In 2019, the centre received 3,493 industrial design applications, up 21.6% compared with 2,873 applications of 2018.
The total number of applications ending examination (including both refusal and acceptance of protection) was 2,795 applications, down 2.5% in comparison with 2,866 applications in 2017. Such a slight decrease in 2019 was because of a reduction of refusals based on valid application acceptance in comparison with 2018 thanks to better quality of filed applications, while the stable number of applications which were completed substantive examination in 2019 in comparison with 2018.
Minister of Science and Technology Chu Ngoc Anh (second from left) deposits the instrument of accession to the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement with Francis Gurry, WIPO Director General
The centre has focused on handling industrial design applications filed before 1 January 2018 to ensure applications were not put deeper in a state of backlog. Although there are still a certain number industrial design applications that have not been handled in time, basically the process of examination of industrial design applications has satisfied requirements of quantity as well as progress rate of application processing. All examiners exceeded the labour norm, many of them were with higher level.
In addition to above results, in December 2019, the Industrial Design Examination Center also successfully organised two workshops in Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh City to introduce the Hague System of International Registration of Industrial Designs to provide information on procedures and how to use the system for applicants in the context of the Viet Nam’s Instrument of Accession to the Hague Agreement came into effect on 30 December 2019.
HANDLING OF APPLICATIONS FOR TRADEMARKS
The year 2019 marked many imprints relating to the handling of trademark applications. This is the first full-year operation for the Trademark Examination Center (merged from Trademark Divisions No. 1 and No. 2) and the Geographical Indication and International Trademark Examination Center (formerly the Geographical Indications and International Trademarks Division). The norm of examinations of trademark applications increased about 25%, while a new search tool was used and the number of filed trademark applications increased about 18%.
Officials of Trademark Examination Center (TEC)
Along with the improvement of infrastructure and techniques for the examination of trademark applications, IP Viet Nam also focused on improving the quality and productivity of examination through various solutions, such as improvement of procedures and methods of handling applications; uniform of professional contents relating to trademark examination; concentration of applications which are complicated and/or deep-backlog in the period of substantive examination; modification of the norm of trademark application examination; and encouraging examiners to improve their productivity.
In addition to trademark examination, trademark examiners also participated in other professional activities, such as joining the ASEAN Trademark Taskforce, providing comments on the ASEAN Common Guidelines for the Substantive Examination of Trademarks, and providing comments on amendments and supplements of the Vietnamese version of the Nice Classification of Goods and Services (version 11-2020), etc.
Consequently, the handling of trademark applications in 2019 achieved outstanding results. The handling of requests for amendment and licensing was also carried out quickly; the formality examination was basically on time while the number applications was examined substantively increased by 59% in comparison with 2018.
PROTECTION INDICATIONS OF GEOGRAPHICAL ORIGINS
Registration of collective marks and certification marks
In 2019, IP Viet Nam received 380 applications for collective and certification trademarks and granted 287 certificates of collective and certification trademark registrations. The product class of registered collective and certification trademark has been mainly agricultural products, in which most are fresh products or raw materials instead of deep-processed products.
Registration of of geographical indications
In 2019, IP Viet Nam received 14 applications for geographical indications, issued 10 registration certificates and handled one request for amendments of protection titles. Geographical indications granted protection included Ba Ria - Vung Tau golden pulp longan, Cat Lo custard apple of Ba Ria - Vung Tau province, Ba Ria - Vung Tau salt, Huong Son antler of Ha Tinh province, Ha Giang beef, Dong Giao pineapple of Ninh Binh province, Vinh Chau purple onion of Soc Trang province, Ky Son ginger of Nghe An province, Cao Lanh mango of Dong Thap province and Dak Ha coffee of Kon Tum province.
Geographical indication "Luc Ngan litchi"
Geographical indications "Cao Lanh mango"
Among the products that were granted a certificate of protection for geographical indications in 2019, fresh products still accounted for a large proportion (7/10 products equivalent to 70%). Processed products only accounted for a small proportion (3/10 products equivalent to 30%). Specially, the geographical indication of Dak Ha was protected for four types of products, including not only green coffee beans and roasted coffee beans but also deep-processing products like powdered coffee and refined coffee.
Geographical indications "Dak Ha coffee" in the form of coffee beans
Geographical indications "Dak Ha coffee" in the form of powdered coffee products
In 2019, all geographical indications were filed and managed by local authorities. The participation of manufacturers, businesses, associations of manufacturers and traders in the process of developing geographical indications was limited.
Orientation towards 2020
The protection of products with indications of geographical origins has brought positive signs in the development of agriculture and intellectual property protection due to the efforts of administrative and local authorities, despite the fact that the number of collective marks, certification marks and geographical indications are all still below the potential of Vietnamese agricultural products and specialities. 2020 is expected to be a year of breakthroughs in the geographical indication protection due tochanging the theoretical approach and localised implementation.
The implementation of intellectual property commitments in multilateral and bilateral trade agreements to which Viet Nam is a member, including geographical indication committments, requires amendments of Vietnamese intellectual property law and challenges to the protection of geographical indications. Effective use of intellectual property tools to protect products bearing indications of geographical origin will help preserve biodiversity and traditional culture, enhance competitiveness and help promote local resources. In contrast, if the protection is not appropriate, it can become a barrier to development. In this context, specific policies are needed to assist localities in selecting an appropriate and effective way to protect products bearing indications of geographical origins to promote the potential and value of agricultural products and regional specialities.