Today marks the fifth anniversary of Cambodia becoming a European Patent validation state, an opportunity to look back on the success of the program.
According to the Cambodian Department of Industrial Property (DIP), over 1,000 patent applicants have taken the first step in requesting validation through the European Patent Office, and paying the associated fee. However, less than 70 have proceeded to successful validation by taking the second step of submitting a request to the DIP.
Under the Agreement between the President of the European Patent Office and the Cambodian Minister of Industry and Handicraft, signed January 23, 2017, European patents may be validated in the Kingdom of Cambodia, thereby conferring the same rights as a Cambodian patent.
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 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 may not be 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).
The first step in the validation process is, 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 180.00 must be paid to the EPO. There is a two-month grace period following this six-month window, subject to a 50% surcharge.
Subsequently, within three months of the EPO granting the application, a request for validation must be submitted by a licensed Cambodian agent to the Department of Industrial Property of the 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.
The following chart outlines the procedure for validating a European patent in Cambodia: