Following the entry into force of a validation agreement between the Government of the Kingdom of Cambodia and the European Patent Organisation on 1 March 2018, there are now two relatively quick and straightforward ways of obtaining patent protection in Cambodia: the first is via re-registration of a Singapore patent (“re-registration route”) and the second is via validation of a European patent (“validation route”). The re-registration route is available to Singapore patents have a filing date on or after 22 Jan 2003, whereas the validation route is only open to European patent applications having a filing date on or after 1 March 2018.

Additionally, whilst there is no deadline for re-registering a Singapore patent in Cambodia, under the validation route, a validation fee is payable at the same time the designation fee for European extension states are due and there is also a deadline of three (3) months from grant of the European patent to complete the validation formalities in Cambodia.

On the issue of translations, a complete translation of the granted Singapore patent into the Khmer language is required under the re-registration route, whereas only a translation of the claims and abstract into the Khmer language is required under the validation route.

Of note though is that under both routes, subject matter restrictions apply including to business methods and pharmaceutical products. In regard to pharmaceutical products in particular, applicants under either route can still benefit from the “mailbox system” provided for under Article 70.8 TRIPS which permits the filing of patent applications for pharmaceutical products despite Cambodia, as a least-developed country, benefitting from a World Trade Organisation waiver that allows such countries to avoid granting and enforcing IP rights on pharmaceutical products until 2033. These applications will not however be examined for patentability until the end of the transitional period. Thereafter, protection may be conferred for the remainder of the patent term as computed from the filing date of the application.