On November 1, 2019, the Patent Recognition Program of South Korea and Cambodia was launched, creating another route for foreign rights holders to extend protection to the Kingdom.
The Patent Recognition Program (PRP) creates a simplified and accelerated procedure for registering a Cambodian patent corresponding to a South Korean patent. It mirrors an earlier program agreed with the Japanese Patent Office.
According to press reports, the first PRP-based patent was issued to Wellsbio for a microfluidic chip and diagnostic instrument to facilitate patient-specific and side effect-free malaria treatment.
Under the PRP, holders of Cambodian patent applications may request an accelerated decision based on examination results from the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) on the corresponding Korean patent. The legal framework is established through the "Prakas (Declaration) on the Acceleration of Patent Grant in Cambodia Based on Patent Recognition Program of a Cambodia-Related Patent with the Korean Intellectual Property Office", which followed on an earlier Memorandum of Understanding between the two countries. KIPO has also published a helpful guideline to the program, available here.
According to the MOU, the Cambodian Patent Office agrees to deliver a decision within three months from the filing of the acceleration request, assuming that all the requirements are fulfilled.
At the outset, the Cambodian patent application must meet one of the following:
A patent application validly claiming priority under the Paris Convention based on the corresponding KIPO patent application;
A patent application that serves as the basis for validly claiming priority under the Paris Convention for the corresponding KIPO patent application including a PCT patent application that entered the national phase; or
A patent application that is based on the same patent application for claiming priority under the Paris Convention, as the corresponding KIPO patent application including PCT patent application that entered the national phase.
It should be stressed that the patent must still meet the subject matter criteria for Cambodian patents, which differs from the Korean standard. In particular, Cambodia does not currently provide patent protection for pharmaceutical products. Thus, such patents would not be granted under the PRP, even if a Korean corresponding patent has been granted.
Further, only patents with filing dates after January 22, 2003 (the date of entry into force of the Cambodian Patent Law), may take advantage of the PRP.
To request acceleration under the PRP, the applicant must have a granted Korean registration with an earliest filing date the same as the Cambodian patent and a granted Korean patent. Further, there must be claims in the Cambodian patent that are the same as one or more of the Korean patent.
For documentation, the request to the Ministry of Industry and Handicraft requires:
A copy of the patent gazette in the corresponding KIPO patent application, and its certification by KIPO;
Translation of claims and specification described in the patent gazette in English;
Translation of claims and specification described in the patent gazette in Khmer. The applicant shall provide the translation of the specification within one month from the date on which the request was filed;
Claims correspondence table between all the claims in the Cambodian application and those in the Korean patent that were deemed patentable. It is permitted to delete part of the claims granted by KIPO, so long as the deleted ones are still present on the table in a way that makes clear the correspondence between the two patents.
According to the implementing declaration, the request for acceleration is not subject to any additional fees.
The MOU foresees further cooperation between the Cambodian and Korean patent offices, with regular meetings and exchanges. The Program is valid for an initial five year term, from November 1, 2019, and will automatically renew unless either side serves notice of termination.
For more about patents in Cambodia, please refer to our Guide to Patent Law in Cambodia