Foreign companies having patents in Europe do not automatically benefit from a protection in South East Asia. With the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), applicants are able to seek protection in the 148 member states by filing only one “international” patent application. During the international “phase”, an international search occurs and a written opinion is given in order to facilitate the following step: the national phase. The PCT also assists member states patent offices, and gives access to information regarding the inventions. Every ASEAN country, except Cambodia and Myanmar, already is a member.

On 2016, May 31st, the Ministry of Industry and Handicraft held, in cooperation with the Japan Patent Office and the Japan Trade Organization, a seminar on the PCT in Phnom Penh. The minister of Industry and Handicraft, Mr. Cham Prasidh announced Cambodia would soon send a proposal to the World Intellectual Property Organization to become a member of the PCT. But Cambodia still needs assistance from other countries and organizations to develop its intellectual property environment – Singapore and Japan are the two countries which have been actively helping Cambodia the past few years. The PCT can really benefit Cambodia as it will certainly attract many foreign investors.

Mr. Prasidh explained that “trade authorities cannot process patent applications from potential investors and there is no way to check whether there are patent infringements” but with the PCT membership, Cambodia would be able to ask the other member states some help to decide whether or not the application can be filed. He then added “This will encourage research for innovation in Cambodia”. [Sources: Khmer Times and Phnom Penh Post]