Cambodia signed an Agreement on the Validation of European Patents (“Validation Agreement”) with the European Patent Office (EPO) on January 23, 2017. This agreement will enter into force on March 1, 2018.

Cambodia will be the first Asian country to validate European patents in its territory, placing it among 44 countries worldwide that allow protection with a single European patent application.

The validation of European patent applications, including international PCT applications designating European patents, only applies to patent applications filed on or after March 1, 2018. Patents filed before that date will not qualify, regardless of when they are granted.

European patent applicants who wish to validate their patents in Cambodia on or after March 1, 2018, will be able to benefit from the new procedures. These simple procedures involve filing a request for validation and paying a validation fee with the EPO. The validation fee must be paid to the EPO within three months after the date that the EPO publishes the granted European patent.

In addition, an applicant must also follow the procedures dictated by the Cambodian Patent Office of the Ministry of Industry and Handicraft, which include submitting a translation of the granted European patent in English and Khmer, and paying a publication fee to the Ministry of Industry and Handicraft.

Pharmaceutical patents are subject to a notable exception under the Validation Agreement. Under Cambodia’s Law on the Amendment of the Law on Patents, Utility Model Certificates, and Industrial Designs dated November 22, 2017, pharmaceutical patents are excluded from patent protection until the expiry of an extension of time for least developed countries to comply with the obligation to protect pharmaceutical related patents. The extension is determined by the World Trade Organization’s Council for Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, and is currently set to expire in January 2033, subject to any future extensions.

Notwithstanding the limitation on pharmaceutical patents, the validation of other European patents would significantly increase intellectual property protection for European patent holders in Cambodia.