Vietnam
Tran Viet Phuong of Duong Tran offers a handy guide to patent prosecution

In Vietnam, an invention (a technical solution in the form of a product or a process that is intended to solve a problem by application of laws of nature) may be protected under two types:


  • Invention patent: Long-term protection of up to 20 years is granted to an invention that meets the novelty, inventive step, and industrial application requirements.

  • Utility solution patent: Protection of up to 10 years is granted for an invention that is not of common knowledge and has novelty and industrial application. This kind of patent is known as a patent for a utility model, or a petty patent.


Patentability

A patent must meet the requirements of unity and patentability (including creation novelty, inventive step and industrial application).

Novelty of invention

In Vietnam, novelty must be universal. To be considered as new, an invention must not be disclosed to the public anywhere in the world: by publication in tangible form, oral disclosure, use, or in any other ways. This is prior to the filing date or where appropriate, the priority date of the relevant patent application.

Novelty is not destroyed in the following disclosure circumstances provided that an application for the invention is filed with the National Office of Intellectual Property (NOIP) of Vietnam within six months of disclosure:

  • The invention is disclosed by a person without the consent of the person having the right to patent the invention;

  • The invention is disclosed in the form of a scientific presentation of the person having the right to patent the invention; or

  • The invention is disclosed as an exhibited object by the person having the right to patent the invention at a national exhibition of Vietnam or an international exhibition.


Inventive step

Invention is considered to involve an inventive step when, given the published technical solutions known as the prior art relevant to the patent application claiming the invention, the invention would not have been obvious to a person skilled in this art.

Industrial application

Invention is considered industrially applicable if it is consistently implementable in any industries. The product of invention can be made or manufactured in large scale or the process invention can be repeatedly used to achieve stable results.

Unpatentable subject matter

In addition to inventions related to objects that are opposed to public interest, humanitarian principles or morality, the following objects are also not protected as patentable under Vietnamese patent laws:

  • Discoveries, scientific theories, mathematical methods;

  • Schemes, plans, rules or methods for performing mental acts, training domestic animals, playing games, doing business, computer programs;
  • Presentations of information;

  • Solutions of aesthetic characteristics only;

  • Plant and animal varieties;

  • Processes of essentially biological nature for the production of plants and animals other than microbiological processes; and
  • Disease prevention, methods of diagnostic and treatment for human or animals.


Patent specification

The specification of an invention is the most important part of a patent application. This part consists of a description, drawings (if any) and one or more claims.

Description

The description must disclose the nature of the invention comprehensively and clearly, so that the invention can be implemented by a person having ordinary skill in the art.

The description should also indicate the best embodiments known by the applicant to enable carrying out the invention.

The description often comprises the following elements:

  • Title of the invention: Pointing out the subject matter of the invention;

  • Technical field: Indicating the technical field to which the invention relates;

  • Background art: Specifying the background art known to the applicant, useful for understanding, conducting patentability search and substantive examination of the invention, and documents reflecting the closest prior art should be preferably cited therein;

  • Summary of the invention: Disclosing the invention in the way that it can be understood, and stating its improvements over the prior art, if any, with reference to the background art;

  • Brief description of the drawings (if any): Briefly describing the figures in the drawings;

  • Detailed description of the invention: Providing at least the best mode contemplated by the inventor for implementing the invention—this part should be written with examples.


Claim

Claims establish the protection scope of the invention. Claims must define the objects of the invention to be patented. Claims should be clear and concise and fully supported by the description. The description and the drawings may be used to interpret the claim.

Each claim must be written in a single sentence and must not rely on references to the description or drawings, such as “as described in Part X of description” or “as illustrated in Figure Y of the drawings”.

Drawing

Drawings are required when they are necessary for understanding the invention. Drawings must be in black and white, represented in lineless paper.

Abstract

The abstract is not used to interpret the protection scope. It only serves the purpose of technical information. It includes a short summary of the description and the claims, and should contain a maximum of 150 words.

Procedure and timeframe

Patent applications may be filed at NOIP directly or by mail.

Examination on filing

The receiving division will examine whether the patent application satisfies the requirements on the documentation and the application fees have been paid.

If the application meets all of the requirements on filing, a date of filing and an application number will be assigned.

Formality examination

The filed application will be then examined as to form within one month. NOIP examines the application as to whether it complies with the administrative requirements or formalities.

If all the relevant documents and information are included and the application fees (often including filing fee, fee for claiming priority right and publication fee) have been paid, the application will be accepted as complete and the application number and the filing date will be officially recorded. NOIP will issue a decision on acceptance and send it to the applicant or its patent agent.

Publication

The patent application will be published in NOIP’s Industrial Property Gazette (Volume A) after a period of 18 months from the filing date, or, if a priority right has been claimed, as from the priority date. Nevertheless, at the request of the applicant, the application may be published before the period referred to above.

For international applications (under the Patent Cooperation Treaty), publication will be made in the second month from the date on which the application is accepted as complete and regular.

The publication information contains the publication number and date, application number and filing date, and international classification indices, as well as information on the applicants, the inventors, the patent agent, the priority data, the title, and the abstract of the invention.

Substantive examination

In order for a patent application to be examined as to its substance, a written request for substantive examination must be filed to NOIP within 42 months for patent application for inventions, or 36 months for patent application for utility solutions, from the date of filing, or, if a priority right has been claimed, as of the date of priority.

The applicant can also make a request for substantive examination by stating so at the request for the granting of the patent, which is filed on the filing date.

The person making the request must pay the prescribed fees for patentability search and substantive examination.

The substantive examination period lasts 18 months from the publication date (if the request for examination is filed before that date) or from the date on which the NOIP receives the examination request (if the request for examination is filed after the publication date).

The substantive examination verifies whether there exist any grounds for refusal connected with unity and patentability.

Grant, recordal and publication of a patent

When NOIP finds all formalities and substantive requirements for the grant of a patent are fulfilled, it issues a notification of the result of the substantive examination.

The applicant will be invited to pay granting, registration, publication fees of the patent, and the first annuity.

After the prescribed fees are paid, NOIP will issue the applicant with a patent letter, which will contain information about the patent in the National Register. NOIP will also publish it in the Industrial Property Gazette (Volume B) within two months from the date of grant.

Duration of patent and annual fees

The term of a patent is 20 years for inventions and 10 years for utility solutions as of the filing date of the application. In order to maintain the patent, annual fees must be paid to NOIP every year after the granting date.

The first annual fee is paid upon NOIP’s request at the notification of the result of the substantive examination. The next annuities should be paid within six months before the anniversary of the granting date.

A grace period of six months is allowed for the payment of annuities upon payment of the prescribed surcharge.

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