The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is composed of ten (10) member states, namely Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Out of the ten member states, seven countries have now become contracting parties to the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT).

After the PCT entered into force on 24 January 1978, it has become the preferred filing route for most applicants seeking patent protection in multiple jurisdictions. As popular as the PCT has become, there are some issues that applicants need to consider when entering national phase applications in ASEAN countries. For example, certain jurisdictions, e.g. Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam, require patent specifications to be submitted in the local language, whilst other countries accept patent specifications in the English language. Also, it is important to note that Thailand’s national phase entry deadline is non-extendable, whereas others’ may be extended by varying periods. Set out hereunder is a table of comparative differences amongst the various ASEAN states which should be taken into account when filing a national phase application.

Click here to view table.

It is highly recommended that applicants work closely with locally-based patent agents to avoid potential problems during the national phase entry process or during the subsequent national examination.  Local agents can assist in determining whether preliminary amendments are necessary and recommend changes in claim format to conform to domestic practice as well as check the disclosure for any shortcomings relating to local regulatory requirements. National phase filings done correctly and efficiently, heeding the advice set out here, will lead to proper protection of the invention in ASEAN countries.