The KIPO and the VNIPO have mutually agreed to commence a pilot PPH Program for a period of two years from 1 June 2019 to 31 May 2021. The program may be renewed after the two year period. Accordingly, a patent application filed with the VNIPO may qualify under the PPH program if it falls into one of the following categories:
- It claims priority to its corresponding Korean patent application in accordance with the Paris Convention; or
- It is a PCT application entering the Vietnam national phase without claiming priority but the KIPO is its Receiving Office; or
- It claims priority to a PCT application(s) in accordance with the Paris Convention provided that the PCT application(s) does (do) not claim priority and the KIPO is its (their) Receiving Office.
Hereinafter the above will be collectively referred to as "Korean corresponding application(s)". Korean corresponding application(s) must have one or more claims that the KIPO has allowed or determined to be patentable.
The rules also apply to divisional applications based on originals that would fall into one of the above categories. However, this program is not available to Korean utility model applications.
In order for a Vietnamese patent application to be examined under the PPH Program, the applicant must submit a request attached with the following documents to the VNIPO upon its request:
i. Copies of all Notifications/Decisions (which would be relevant to the substantial examination in the KIPO) issued for the corresponding application by the KIPO, and English or Vietnamese translations thereof;
ii. Copies of all claims determined to be patentable/allowable by the KIPO, and English or Vietnamese translations thereof;
iii. Copies of references cited by the KIPO examiners; and
iv. Claim corresponding table that indicates how all claims in the Vietnamese application filed with the VNIPO sufficiently correspond to the patentable/allowable claims in the Korean corresponding application(s).
It is worthy to note that the request must be filed with the VNIPO before it issues a first notice on the result of substantive examination. In addition, the annual number of requests accepted by the VNIPO shall not exceed one hundred (100). If the request is accepted, the status of the subject patent application will be changed to "accelerated examination under the PPH". Otherwise, a Notification of Defects will be issued and the applicant will be given a time limit to correct it.
According to informal information, about 75% of the total number of patent applications filed in Vietnam are under the name of foreign applicants. This number will continue to grow. Thus, the PPH program will bring significant benefits to foreign applicants who have filed an application based on a Korean corresponding one(s). They will enjoy an accelerated examination period and earlier protection (if accepted).