Cambodia to Recognize Chinese Patents in Iandmark Agreement

Source: China Daily

Officials say move will advance construction of modern rights protection system in SE Asian nation.

The Cambodian government will soon recognize Chinese patents as effective for protection in its own territory, according to China's State Intellectual Property Office.

Whether from abroad or not, owners of invention patents granted in China can register with the Cambodian authorities, SIPO officials said at a news conference in Beijing on March 2. The policy does not include utility models and industrial designs.

Chinese patents that were applied for after Jan 22, 2003, the date Cambodia's patent law came into effect, and remain valid are eligible to apply under the policy, He Zhimin, deputy commissioner of SIPO, told the conference.

"It is a historic achievement in China's endeavor to build itself into an IP powerhouse," he said.

The landmark in intellectual property cooperation between the two countries shows Cambodia's high approval of China's efficiency and quality in dealing with patent filings, He noted.

The cooperation also reflects China's growing influence in the international community, he added.

SIPO Commissioner Shen Changyu and Cambodia's Minister of Industry and Handicraft Cham Prasidh signed a memorandum of understanding, the first of its kind in China, in September 2017 to agree on the recognition of Chinese patents in Cambodia.

Following nearly half a year of discussions, the two sides have reached a consensus on the specific procedures.

After the countries' governments post public announcements regarding the application details in the near future, Cambodia's Ministry of Industry and Handicraft will begin accepting filings.

Cambodian officials will check the application materials without the need to conduct a substantive review, before granting a patent. The materials include a registration form, a patent specification issued by SIPO and other patent documents in English and Khmer, the official language of Cambodia.

Once the Chinese patent is recognized in Cambodia, its protection will last for the same time span as in China.

The Cambodian government said it has long highly valued IP's role in encouraging technological innovation, promoting technology revolution and improving the country's competitiveness in foreign trade.

The government said it wishes to increase cooperation with China in the IP field to advance the construction of its own modern system, He told the conference in Beijing.

The recognition of Chinese patents is a key step in bilateral cooperation efforts, which will provide better services to innovators both in China and Cambodia, help to advance the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative, and enhance the comprehensive partnership between the two countries, he noted.

Cambodia has also signed agreements with the European Patent Office, the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore and the Japan Patent Office. However, none of those agreements is similar to that with China, which is a country-to-country agreement featuring unilateral recognition and retroactive applicability.

Wang Xiaoyun, deputy head of SIPO's international cooperation department, explained the differences to the Beijing news conference. In the EPO case, European patents that were granted after the accord's signing date last year can be protected in Cambodia. In the Cambodia-Singapore model, the patent recognition is reciprocal. The cooperation with Japan enables an accelerated channel for processing patent filings, based on the JPO's work results.

By the end of last year, more than 2 million invention patents were valid in China. The majority of them are qualified for protection in Cambodia, Wang said.

In addition to the collaboration with Cambodia, China is exploring other options in international cooperation to increase IP work efficiency, including the Patent Prosecution Highway program, a mechanism of accelerating the processing of patent filings by sharing work results among different countries.

To date, SIPO has agreed such programs with its counterparts in 27 countries and regions.