Given the importance of Australian/Asian economic ties, it may interest our clients to hear that the European Patent Office (EPO) has recently signed a deal with the Cambodian government that paves the way for European patent applicants and patent right holders to extend their European rights to Cambodia.

The deal brokered between the EPO and the Cambodian government was announced on 23 January 2017 and is historic in the sense that it provides for the first recognition of the European patent rights in an Asian country. Until now, Tunisia and Morocco have been the only non-European countries where European patent rights are directly recognised.

This deal potentially makes Cambodia an attractive manufacturing/investment location for European patent right holders and investors and in this regard appears to give Cambodia an advantage over other Asian manufacturing hubs such as Vietnam and Thailand.

The first Cambodian “European” patent are expected to take effect mid 2017 after the agreement is written into Cambodian law.

Alongside the extension agreement, both parties signed a bilateral cooperation plan which is part of Cambodia’s plan to strengthen its economy by providing a robust IP administration system and increasing investor awareness of Cambodian IP rights.

Indeed, Cambodia is taking IP very seriously having signed up to the Madrid Protocol of Trademarks in 2015, the Patent Co-operation Treaty in September 2015 and is due to officially join the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs later this month.

Not bad for a country that granted it first ever patent in 2015.