The agency in charge of intellectual property rights in Vietnam is the National Office of Intellectual Property (NOIP) located in Hanoi, with branch offices in Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang. Vietnam is a signatory of the Patent Cooperation Treaty and a member of the Paris Convention. Patent rights for inventions last for 20 years; rights for utility solutions last for 10 years; and rights for design patents last for 5 years, with up to two 5-year extensions. Patent rights are subject to an annual renewal fee for each independent claim.
Filing Patents in Vietnam
Vietnamese nationals, permanent residents, and foreign organizations operating in Vietnam may file patent applications directly or through counsel; otherwise, patent applications must be filed through counsel. An application for a patent must include the name and address of the applicant(s) and the name, address, and nationality of the author(s). An application must specify the title of the invention, international patent classification, claims of priority, if any, and a copy of the patent specification including description, claims, abstract, and drawings. If the applicant is not the inventor, the application must be accompanied by an instrument of assignment. The application must also specify whether the application is to be examined as an invention or utility solution. Under IP Law 50/2005, Article 58, an invention requires the presence of an inventive step, while a utility solution does not. Extra fees apply for specifications in excess of five pages.
A claim of priority must include the country of filing, application number, and filing date of the application for which priority is claimed. Additionally, the application must include a copy of the patent application for which priority is claimed. If the applicant for the priority application is different from the applicant for the application claiming priority, it must be accompanied by an assignment of priority rights.
PCT National Stage in Vietnam
Vietnam is a member of the PCT and the Paris Convention. When an application is filed as a PCT National Stage application, the application deadline is 31 months from the PCT application’s priority date. The national stage application must contain a Vietnamese translation of the international application.
Recent IP Legal Trends in Vietnam
The 2009 amendments to IP Law 50/2005 brought some changes and clarifications to Vietnam’s patent laws. Vietnam now clearly specifies that it uses a first-to-file system that applies whenever multiple applications for the same or similar invention are filed. The time frame for completing substantive evaluation of a patent increased from 12 months to 18 months. The 2009 amendments also codify reexamination of patents by the owner of the patent on request to narrow the scope of the patent.