Rajah & Tann Regional Round-Up
your snapshot of key legal developments in Asia
Issue 4 - Oct/Nov/Dec 2019

Reducing Patent Application Pendency and Increasing Patent Quality in Lao PDR

Under the Lao Law on Intellectual Property that was revised in June 2018 ("Amended IP Law"), patent applicants may still be frustrated by the lengthy application pendency in the Department of Intellectual Property of the Ministry of Science and Technology of Laos ("Lao DIP").

The alternative key procedures to accelerate Lao patent postulation are as follows:

  1. Laos participates in the ASEAN Patent Examination Cooperation ("ASPEC") which allows applicants of patent protection in other ASEAN patent offices to save cost and time when seeking a patent protection. The other eight participating members of the ASPEC are the ASEAN IP Offices of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. ASPEC, therefore, enables Lao DIP to utilise the search and examination results from any of these IP Offices as references in the Lao patent application when that IP Office has found at least one claim novel and inventive. In order to qualify for ASPEC, a patent application filed at the Lao DIP must be a corresponding patent application to one that is filed and examined in another ASEAN patent office. Patent applications are corresponding applications if they are linked by a Paris Convention priority claim (from one to the other or from both to another patent application) or are both national phase entry applications from the same Patent Cooperation Treaty ("PCT") application.

  2. Pursuant to a framework that was established by an agreement between the Lao DIP and the Japan Patent Office ("JPO"), when patent applications have been examined and granted at the JPO, patent rights may also be granted to corresponding applications which have been filed in Laos without conducting substantial examinations. Therefore, applicants of Lao patent applications who own patents granted by the JPO can request accelerated decisions on eligibility for the grant of the Lao patent applications with the Lao DIP at any time after the grant of the Japanese patent. The requirements for the request for accelerated decisions on eligibility for the grant of the Lao patent applications are that the designated patent application filed with the Lao DIP must share the same earliest priority date and, like ASPEC, be linked by Paris Convention or PCT priority.

  3. According a Memorandum of Understating signed in 2018 to further the IP cooperation between China (represented by China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA)), and Laos (represented by the Lao DIP), patent applicants who own valid Chinese patents may also request accelerated eligibility for grant decisions on Lao patent applications. The Memorandum of Understanding is entered into under the Belt and Road Initiative and China-ASEAN IP cooperation. 

  4. On 27 November 2019, the Lao DIP signed a Memorandum of Cooperation ("MOC") with the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore ("IPOS") which will enable Singapore-granted patents to be re-registered in Laos to accelerate enterprise access into both the Singapore and the Lao markets. In addition, the MOC enables the Lao DIP to tap on IPOS' patent search and examination expertise and services for prosecution of Lao patents. Utilising the IPOS patent services and expertise, the Lao DIP seeks to improve the quality of Lao-granted patent.

Laos, Singapore Further IP Cooperation to Accelerate ASEAN's Innovation Growth

On 27 November 2019, at the sidelines of the 2nd ASEAN-Korea Heads of IP Offices Meeting held at Seoul, Korea, the Department of Intellectual Property ("DIP") of the Ministry of Science and Technology of Laos and the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore ("IPOS") signed a new intellectual property ("IP") cooperation to allow innovative enterprises swifter access to the combined market of both countries.

The Memorandum of Cooperation ("MOC") bridges the innovation ecosystems of both countries to support the translation of ideas, IP and intangible assets ("IA") into products and services in the ASEAN region. IPOS will lend its deep technical IP knowledge and services to support Laos in building its innovation ecosystem and contribute to economic integration in ASEAN through IP and IA.

The MOC covers two broad areas of collaboration:

  1. the DIP will tap on IPOS’ patent search and examination expertise and services to grant quality patents in Laos; and

  2. the DIP will allow Singapore granted patents to be re-registered in Laos, accelerating enterprise access into both markets.

The MOC also affirms the mutual commitment of both countries to cooperate in supporting the innovation ecosystem. It will enhance coordination between Laos and Singapore and provide greater support to innovators growing and protecting their IP in both countries and the region.

IP today is a key enabler in transforming ASEAN into a highly innovative and economically competitive region.

Please note that whilst the information in this Update is correct to the best of our knowledge and belief at the time of writing, it is only intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter and should not be treated as a substitute for specific professional advice.


Rajah & Tann (Laos) Co., Ltd
Anou Village,
Samsenthai Road Unit 17,
Chanthabouly District,
Vientiane Capital, Lao PDR.


Lee Hock Chye
Managing Partner
D 603 2273 1919
F 603 2273 8310

Khanti Syackhaphom
Legal Advisor
D 856 21 454 239
F 856 21 285 261

Desmond Wee
D (65) 62320474

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