IP/Legal Practice in Vietnam

The laws relating to patents are regulated by the concept of “first to file” in Vietnam. The country distinguishes between patents and utility solution patents:

  • The protection of Invention patents is for a maximum period of 20 years;
  • The utility patents get protection for a maximum period of 10 years; and
  • Maximum protection given to Industrial designs is on 5 years which can be further renewed for two consecutive periods of five years).

VietnamA patentee has the right to request the competent authorities to enforce his rights to patent against any infringement in compliance with the provisions of the IP Act and other applicable laws and regulations by means of administrative and civil action (articles 198 and 199) as provided by the Intellectual Property of Vietnam (the IP Law 2005, amended in 2009 and 2019). Any organization or individual supplying funds and material facilities to an inventor as part of a job assignment or hire assignment has the right to register the inventor’s invention. If an inventor has produced an invention directly for his own profit, he or she can register the invention.

The NOIP (National Office of Intellectual Property of Vietnam) is responsible for receiving and examining the patent application and for granting patents. Any matter, product, or method which by the application of natural law, addresses a specific technological problem is patentable which is outlines under Section 59 with exceptions such as:

  • scientific discoveries or theories and mathematical methods;
  • Methods for performing mental actions, training of domestic animals, playing games, and doing business;
  • computer programs;
  • presentations of information;
  • solutions of an aesthetic nature only;
  • plant varieties and animal breeds;
  • Plant or animal manufacturing processes that are mainly biological but not microbiological; and
  • human and animal disease prevention methods, diagnostic and treatment methods.

Who can apply for a Patent Application?

Governed by Articles 86 and 89, an application can be made by any of the following people:

  • Authors who have created inventions with their own efforts and expenses
  • Organizations or individuals who have supplied funs and material facilities to authors in the form of job assignment or hire unless otherwise agreed by the involved parties.
  • Foreign nationals residing permanently
  • Foreign organizations having a production or trading establishment
  • Non-resident foreign nationals or organizations not having a production or trading establishment shall apply through a lawful representative.

Patent Application Requisite Documentation

Documents required for Patent Registration (Article 100):

  • Declaration for registration in the prescribed form
  • Documents, samples, and information identifying the invention
  • Power of attorney (if applied through a representative)
  • Documents evidencing the registration right if such right is acquired by another person
  • Documents evidencing the priority right, if it is claimed
  • Vouchers of payment of fees and charges
  • A copy of the first application certified by the registration office

Patent Application Requisite Information

  • Description of the invention, along with the scope of protection.
  • The scope of protection must be described in the form of technical combinations which are necessary and sufficient to identify the scope of rights to such inventions, and compatible with the description and drawings (if any).
  • Abstract, disclosing the principal features.
  • Fully and clearly disclosing the nature of the invention to the extent that such invention may be realized by a person with average knowledge in the art.
  • Briefly explaining the accompanying drawings, if any.
  • Clarifying the novelty, inventive step, and susceptibility of industrial application of the invention.

Patent Application Filing

  • Governed by Article 108, all applications shall be received by the State administrative authority, and the filing date shall be the one on which the application is received by the state administrative authority.
  • Governed by Article 90, when two or more applications are filed by several people to register the same invention, protection may only be granted to the valid application with the earliest date of priority or filing date among the applications that satisfy all the requirements.
  • Vietnam is a member of PCT, hence international applications are also accepted.

Patent Application Examination

The application shall be examined within 1 month from the filing date (Article 119). The Examination is conducted in two ways:

Formal Examination

Governed by Article 109 to verify the formal validity of the application, an examination process shall be conducted.

Substantive Examination

Governed by Article 119, 12 months from the date of publication of the invention, if a request for substantive examination is filed before the date of application publication; or from the date of receipt of a request for substantive examination if such request is filed after the date of application publication.

Patent Application Acceptance/ Refusal

The application for registration may be accepted with or without amendments until the notice of refusal by the State administrative authority. The applicant shall have the following rights:

  • To make amendments or supplements to the application.
  • To divide the application.
  • To request for recording changes in the name or address of the applicant.
  • To request for recording changes in the applicant as a result of assignment under the contract, as a result of inheritance, bequest, or under a decision of an authority.

Any amendment or supplement to an industrial property registration application must not expand the scope of the subject matter disclosed or specified in the application and must not change the substance of the subject matter claimed for registration in the application and shall ensure the unity of the application. Fee for amending applications, including for request of supplement, separation, assignment, change (per each amendment/ application): 120 thousand VND.

Governed by Article 117, refusal to register an application may be on the following grounds:

  • The subject matter claimed in the application does not fulfill the protection requirements.
  • The application satisfies all the conditions for the issue of a protection title but is not the application with the earliest filing date or priority date as in the case referred to in Article 90.1 of the Law.
  • The application falls within the cases referred to in Article 90.1 of this Law but a consensus of all the applicants is not reached.
  • The State administrative authority shall serve a notice of an intended refusal to grant a Protection Title, in which the reasons are clearly stated with a set time limit for the applicant to oppose to such intended refusal.
  • The State administrative authority shall serve a notice of the refusal to grant a Protection Title if the applicant has no objection or has unjustifiable objection to such intended refusal.

Patent Publication

  • An industrial property registration application that has been accepted as being valid by the State administrative authority shall be published in the Industrial Property Official Gazette.
  • An invention registration application shall be published in the 19th month as from the filing date or the priority date, as applicable, or at an earlier time at the request of the applicant.
  • Fee for publication of application, including application for amendment, supplement, separation, assignment (each application): 120 thousand VND.
  • The application for registration shall be examined as to its substance within 6 months from the date of its publication.
  • for substantive examination of application (for each claim) – without information searching: 420 thousand VND.

Patent Protection

  • Article 93 stipulates the validity of the protection titles, which are valid throughout the territory of Vietnam, and the registration of the Patent shall be valid up to 20 years from the date of filing. Their validity commences on the date of the grant of protection.
  • Governed by Article 122 and 123, Moral Rights and Economic rights accruing after registration.
    Moral Rights:
    • To be named as authors in invention or utility patents.
    • To be acknowledged as authors in documents in which inventions are published or introduced.
    Economic rights:
    • Owners of inventions are obliged to pay remuneration to their authors unless otherwise agreed by the parties.