Definition of Invention under the IP Law of Laos
According to Article 3.5 of the IP Law of Laos, an invention means the technical solution to create new product or process of production to resolve a specific problem.
Definition of Utility Innovation under the IP Law of Laos
According to Article 3.7 of the IP Law of Laos, utility innovation means a new innovative work derived through technical improvements, which involve simpler steps than with inventions.
Which protection types can be obtained for technical inventions under Lao IP Law?
Under the IP Law of Laos, technical inventions can be protected in the form of either patent or petty patent.
According to Article 13 of the Lao IP Law, in order to obtain a patent, an invention shall meet all the criteria of novelty, inventive step and industrial applicability. While according to Article 14 of the Lao IP Law, in order to obtain a petty patent, a utility innovation shall meet all the following requirements:
– novelty in the sense that it has not been previously known or used in the Lao PDR within one year prior to the date of application;
– inventive step which may be a lesser inventive step than required for a patent;
– industrial applicability.
Where to file a patent application in Laos?
Patent applications should be filed at the Lao Department of Intellectual Property.
Can foreign patent applicant directly file a patent application before the Laos Department of Intellectual Property?
No, he cannot. According to Article 27 of Lao IP Law, any individual, legal entity or organization residing in a foreign country, who wishes to apply for the patent registration, shall appoint an authorized representative in the Lao PDR. The applicant without business premises or residence in the Lao PDR shall appoint an authorized representative in the Lao PDR to carry out transactions related to his invention in the Lao PDR. A Laotian patent agent must be appointed by the applicant, through a Power of Attorney (POA), to act on the applicant’s behalf in filing and prosecuting his inventions in Laos. The POA must be notarized, and can be submitted on filing or within a period of 02 months from the filing date.
6. Are there any subject matters being excluded from the patent protection in Laos?
Yes, there are. Under Article 21 of the IP Law of Laos, the following subject matters shall be ineligible for a patent or petty patent:
– Discoveries of existing things, including living organisms or parts of living organisms;
– Treatment and/or cure of humans or animals by way of diagnostic, therapeutic, and/or surgical means;
– Scientific principles/theories and mathematical formulas/rules/principles for doing business or playing games;
– Plants and animals, other than microorganisms, and any biological processes for the production of plants or animal;
– Inventions which are contrary to the public order or the national cultural morality.
What are the protection criteria to obtain a patent or a petty patent in Laos?
To be patentable, an invention and a utility innovation must meet the criteria of novelty, inventive step, and industrial applicability. However, such criteria for the latter are not as high as those of the former. In particular:
According to Article 13 of the IP Law of Laos, an invention is new if such invention has not existed, not been disclosed to the public by publication, or by use or in any other means in the Lao PDR or any place in the world prior to the date of filing the application for registration or where priority is claimed prior to the priority date of the
application for a patent.
Meanwhile, according to Article 14 of the IP Law of Laos, a utility innovation is new if it has not been previously known or used in the Lao PDR within one year prior to the date of application;
According to Article 13 of the IP Law of Laos, an invention shall be deemed to meet inventive step if it would not be obvious to a person having ordinary knowledge in that field of technology. Meanwhile, according to Article 14 of the same law, in case of a utility innovation, the inventive step shall be required at a lesser degree than those for invention.
The industrial applicability shall be deemed to be met if the invention or innovation shall be industrially applicable in industry, handicraft, agriculture, fishery, services, etc.
Does Laos adopt the “first to file” principle?
Yes, it does. Laos adopts the “first to file” principle. In particular, according to Article 28 of the IP Law of Laos, where more than one application is filed for the same subject matter, a patent or petty patent shall be awarded on the basis of the application with the earliest filing date, taking into account the priority date if applicable, where such application satisfies the requirements for the protection requested.
What is the time limit for entering a PCT application into the national phase in Laos?
Laos follows the the time limit of 30 months from the earliest priority date for entry into the national phase.
What is the deadline to submit Laotian translation of patent specification?
According to Article 37 of the IP Law of Lao, Laotian translation of a patent specification must be submitted within 90 days from the filing date.
How to execute the power of attorney (POA) from an applicant to a patent agent in Laos?
The POA needs to be signed and notarized.
What is the deadline to submit an original Power of Attorney for patent registration in Laos?
A copy of the POA is acceptable at filing date but the original must be submitted within 02 months from the filing date.
When is a Laotian patent application published?
According to Article 39 of the IP Law of Lao, patent applications accepted as to formality shall be published in the Official Industrial Property Gazette. Patent applications shall be published in the 19th month from the filing date.
How the substantive examination is proceeded for a Laotian patent application?
An application for a patent is subject to a substantive examination to determine whether it meets the requirements for patentability or for obtaining a petty patent. The substantive examination shall be based on a search of existing technical knowledge. Where the application has previously been subject to a search or examination by another authority, the applicant may submit a copy of the report of such office and request that it be accepted in lieu of conducting a search in the Lao PDR.
If the applicant is unable to provide substantive examination reports for the invention or utility innovation which is the subject of the application, the applicant may submit a request to the Ministry of Science and Technology to examine as to substance the application and pay the prescribed fees. The Ministry of Science and Technology will undertake the examination within the following time frames: 32 months for an invention and 12 months for a utility innovation from the date of filing the application or the priority date.
How to amend a Laotian patent application?
According to Article 42 of the IP Law of Laos, at any time an application is pending but before it is in order for grant, an applicant may amend the application provided that the amendment shall not introduce new technical information not supported by the original application.
Can a patent application be converted into an application for petty patent, and vice versa?
Yes, it can. According to Article 25 of the Decree 01/PM on Patent, Petty Patent and Industrial Design, at any time before the consideration of grant, an applicant for registration of a device may convert his application into an application for a patent, or vice versa. The Registry shall accord the filing date of the initial application
How long does it take from the filing date until the grant of patent in the Laos DIP?
It would take 50 months from the filing date to obtain a patent, and 12 months from the filing date to obtain a petty patent.
How long is it for the validity term of a patent and a petty patent in Laos?
According to Article 48 of the IP Law of Laos, the validity term for a patent is 20 years, counted from the filing date. Meanwhile, according to Article 49 of the same law, such term for a petty patent is 10 years counted from the filing date.
In order to maintain the term of protection, the patent/petty patent owner shall pay annual fees in advance.
Can the annual fees be late paid in Laos?
Yes, the late payment of annuity fees is accepted within a 6-month grace period.
How to invalidate a patent/petty patent in Laos?
According to Article 45 of the IP Law of Laos, the patent or petty patent is invalidated based on a finding that one or more requirements for protection have not been satisfied; where such finding applies to only a portion of the industrial property, the termination shall apply only to such portion as is invalidated. In such case, the invalidation shall be effective as from the grant of the patent or petty patent. Failure to the commercial exploitation, the patent rights will be also terminated after the final decision by the competent court.