The ASEAN region has a combined population of 650 million people and an area of over 4.5 million square kilometers, making it effectively the third largest market in the world after China and India. Foreign direct investments (FDIs) have increased steadily over the years due to a growing middle-class population and a booming industrial and manufacturing landscape.
Like many countries around the world, the recent spread of the COVID-19 virus has taken a toll on economic activity in the ASEAN region. Nevertheless, we remain optimistic and are closely monitoring the situation in the region. We are also continuing to provide high-quality service and tailored advice to our clients in this region to assist with capturing any growth opportunities in the near future.
Below is an update on how some countries in the ASEAN region are coping to ensure that patent prosecution and filing procedures are not disrupted.
The Singapore government has implemented “circuit-breaker” measures from 7 April 2020 until 4 May 2020 to control the spread of the virus. This has been recently extended to 1 June 2020.
The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) has announced that 7 April to 7 May inclusive are excluded days for business under all IP legislation that it administers. The IPOS physical office will be closed during this period. All deadlines falling within that period are automatically extended until 8 May 2020.
E-filing of documents at IPOS is still possible during this period.
The Malaysian government imposed a Movement Control Order (MCO) from 18 March 2020 until 31 March 2020 across the nation. The MCO has been recently extended to 28 April 2020.
The Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia’s (MyIPO) physical office will be closed during this period. No physical documents will be accepted by the patent office. Deadlines for all office actions issued by MyIPO are extended till 30 April 2020. All manual filings with priority deadlines due within the affected period are extended to 4 May 2020.
E-filing of documents for patents and designs applications is still possible. Only new applications for trademarks will be processed.
The Thai Department of Intellectual Property (DIP) has issued a notification allowing for requests of extension of time for deadlines falling within the COVID-19 outbreak period. This applies to deadlines for filing applications and other submissions (e.g. appeals, oppositions, responses to office actions, renewals, etc.) to the DIP. Valid reasons will have to be provided to justify why the application or submission cannot be submitted to the DIP within the prescribed period. Each application will be considered on a case by case basis.
As of 1 April 2020, all transactions with the Intellectual Property Office of Vietnam (NOIP) can only be conducted via post or electronic medium until further notice. Fee payments can be made by post or bank transfer to the NOIP’s bank account at the state treasury.
NOIP has announced that all procedures relating to the registration of IP rights that are due from 30 March 2020 till 30 April 2020 (e.g. priority claiming, submitting documents, response to notification, renewal, maintenance, fee payment, complaint) are automatically extended to 30 May 2020.
Applicants who are still affected by the COVID-19 situation may request for application of force majeure provisions.
The Philippine government has placed metropolitan Manila under community quarantine from 15 March 2020 to 30 April 2020 to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Metropolitan Manila has also been placed under curfew from 8pm to 5am during this period.
The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) has announced a work from home arrangement to ensure continued delivery of services during this period. Deadlines for responses to official actions, declarations, and other documents that are due between 16 March 2020 and 15 May 2020 are extended for a period of 60 calendar days from the due date. Deadlines for payments that are due between 16 March 2020 and 15 May 2020 are extended for a period of 60 calendar days from the due date.
New applications for patents, utility models, industrial designs, trade marks and trade mark related documents may only be filed online via the electronic filing system during this period.
The governor of Jakarta has declared a state of emergency in the capital city on 20 March 2020 with the aim to curb the rapid surge in COVID-19 cases.
The Directorate General of Intellectual Property (DGIP) has announced that the closure of the customer service centre will be extended until 21 April 2020. Any late filing of documents that are due in March and April 2020 will still be accepted by DGIP.
All applications may still be filed online.