Under a recent cooperation agreement, European patents can be validated in Cambodia, thereby conferring the same rights as a regular Cambodian patent. Cambodia is the only country in Asia to benefit from such a system, and only the fourth globally (Morocco, Moldova and Tunisia being the others).

The validation must be specifically requested by the patent owner – the validation agreement does NOT automatically extend patent protection for all European patents to Cambodia. Validation is possible for both applications filed directly to the European Patent Office, as well as European PCT applications. The validation procedure is relatively straightforward, however it must be considered early in the application process in order not to miss crucial deadlines.

As a first step, the patent owner should verify that two outset criteria are met:

– The European application must have been filed on or after March 1, 2018 – the date of entry into force of the validation agreement. Patents granted after March 1, 2018 from applications filed before that date cannot be validated.

– The patent is not for a pharmaceutical product, as these are not currently protected under Cambodian patent law. As a Least Developed Country, Cambodia has been granted a waiver from its obligations as a World Trade Organization member to protect pharmaceutical patents until 2033. As an aside, applications for pharmaceutical products may actually be filed at present, however they will not be examined until 2033 (or possibly later if another waiver is granted, or even sooner if Cambodia voluntarily amends its patent law).

Second, within six months from publication in the European Patent Bulletin of the search report (or for PCT applications, within the period for performing acts required to enter into the European phase) a validation fee of EUR 180 must be paid to the EPO. There is a two-month grace period following this six-month window, subject to a 50% surcharge.

Third, within three months of the EPO granting the application, a request for validation must be submitted by a licensed Cambodian agent to the Cambodian Ministry of Industry and Handicraft. The request for validation requires the relevant application form, a power of attorney appointing the agent, a copy of the European patent, and an English and Khmer translation of the patent’s title, claims and abstract. While the applicant is free to arrange for translation into Khmer themselves, the Ministry of Industry and Handicraft can perform the translation from English on the applicant’s behalf – subject to payment of a translation fee. This is highly recommended, as few Khmer translators outside of the Ministry have the necessary technical knowledge and understanding of patent law. An independent review of the Ministry’s draft translation is recommended so as to ensure its accuracy and that no claims have been narrowed.

Finally, a publication fee of USD 30 must be paid to the Ministry of Industry and Handicraft, as well as the standard certificate issuance fee of USD 150. Upon successful validation, the Ministry will issue a patent certificate for the owner’s records.

The following chart outlines the procedure for validating a European patent in Cambodia:

 

 

 

The legal basis of the validation system is:

– Agreement between the President of the European Patent Office and the Cambodian Minister of Industry and Handicraft, signed January 23, 2017
– Royal Kram No. NS/RKM/1117/017 on the Ratification of the Agreement on Validation of European Patents between the Government of the Kingdom of Cambodia and the European Patent Office, dated November 24, 2017
Prakas (declaration) No. 282 MIH/2017 on the Regulation and Procedures for the Validation of European Patents in Cambodia