On April 2, 2018, Changyu Shen, Commissioner of China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA), and Houmphan Inthirath, Deputy Minister of Science and Technology of Laos and Chairman of the Lao National Commission for Science and Technology, signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Intellectual Property Cooperation between the National Intellectual Property Administration of the People’s Republic of China and the Ministry of Science and Technology of Lao People's Democratic Republic (MoU) in Vientiane, Laos. According to the MoU, the Lao government would recognize the patent examination results made by related Chinese authorities. The signing of the MoU shows that China and Laos have achieved positive results in the fields such as IP cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative, China-ASEAN IP cooperation, and examiner training cooperation.

Since the signing of the MoU, practitioners in the IP field have been expecting the launching of the specific rules and regulations on the cooperation for facilitating patent grant. On April 29, 2019, the CNIPA issued the Announcement No. 307, formally announcing that as of that day, patent applicants who own valid Chinese patents may request accelerated decisions on patents in Laos for patent applications which they have filed with the Department of Intellectual Property (DIP), Ministry of Science and Technology of Lao People's Democratic Republic under the cooperation between CNIPA and DIP.

To help the applicants understand the related procedures, we summarize some key points of the Procedural Guidelines for Requesting Accelerated Patent Decision Under the Cooperation for Facilitating Patent Grant of the Laos-related Patent Application between the China National Intellectual Property Authority and the Department Of Intellectual Property, Ministry of Science and Technology of Lao People's Democratic Republic for your reference.

1.Timing for Making Requests

a.before the grant of the Lao patent application; and

b.after the grant of the Chinese patent.

2.Requirements for Making Requests

a. The Chinese patent and the Lao patent application are related, i.e. they have the same earliest priority date (whether this be a priority date or filing date).

* The Chinese patent and the Lao patent application are deemed related under many circumstances. For example, the Chinese patent is a priority claimed by the Lao patent application, the Lao patent application is a priority claimed by the Chinese patent, the Chinese patent and the Lao patent application claim a same priority, the Chinese patent and the Lao patent application are different national phases of a same PCT application, etc.

b. the claims of the Lao patent application are the same as one or more claims in the corresponding Chinese patent application granted by the CNIPA.

* Applicants are allowed to delete a part of the claims that were granted by the CNIPA (The rest claims will be still considered to be “the same”). However, a claim in the Lao patent application which introduces a new/different category of claims to those claims granted by the CNIPA is not considered as being the same.

3. Documents to be Submitted

a. a request for accelerated decisions on patents;

b. a copy of the patent gazette of the corresponding Chinese patent application;

c. a copy of patent register of the corresponding Chinese patent;

d. a translation of Claims and Specification described in the patent gazette in English and in Lao;

e. claims correspondence table (if the number of the claims granted by the CNIPA is different from the number of claims in the Lao patent application due to the deletion of claims, applicants are requested to state the claims in a way that clearly shows the correspondence between the claims granted by the CNIPA and the claims in the Lao patent application); and

f. amendment to the claims.

If the above documents do not meet formality requirements or have defects, the DIP will issue notifications and the applicants may make rectifications or amendments for multiple times. However, the applicant should note that once the request is approved, the DIP will grant the patent under the Cooperation for facilitating Patent Grant of Laos-related patent application as soon as possible without written notification to the applicant.

Furthermore, the request for accelerated patent decision is preferably filed after the expiration of a 32 month period starting from the filing date or the priority date, otherwise, the documents submitted will be treated as the copy of the report on search or examination by another authority provided in Article 41 of the Law of Intellectual Property of Laos.

Hope the above information may be helpful for patentees and patent applicants in global patent strategy.

The territoriality of patent protection determines that if an applicant wants to obtain patent protection in different countries and regions, they shall patent applications in those different countries and regions. With the constant improvement of China’s innovation and patent examination ability, China’s patent examination results have been recognized by more and more regions and/or countries, such as HK, Macau, Cambodia and Lao. As China’s influence has become increasingly stronger, it will be more and more convenient for Chinese patent applicants to go out.