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ASEAN Trademarks

Te AEC harmonisation plan for trademarks will be based primarily on the Madrid Protocol. Unlike the EU model, ASEAN’s integration plan for trademarks does not currently include a Community Trademark (CTM) scheme. According to the action plan, ASEAN members are required to accede to the Madrid Protocol by 2015. At present, only Singapore and Vietnam are members of the Madrid Protocol. Tailand has been working toward accession for several years, and is expected to join by 2015.


Importantly, the AEC envisions that all countries will become members of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) by 2015. Currently, four ASEAN member states have not joined (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar). Member states are charged with the responsibility to issue appropriate guidelines for PCT implementation in their country, and to amend any relevant legislation. AEC IP harmonisation strongly advocates implementation of the ASEAN Patent Examination Cooperation (ASPEC) system. It is hoped that the system will be fully operational by 2012, and will be used for 5 percent of all patent applications at this time. Other plans include the establishment of a regional network of at least 20 regional patent libraries to increase access to global scientific information.

Patent office capacity building is a specific AEC IP harmonisation goal, with training programmes for patent examiners to feature heavily in coming years. Various international patent offices have committed to providing training and best practice recommendations, with ASEAN patent examiners receiving training in neighbouring patent offices. Of note is plant variety protection, with Singapore and Vietnam, which have joined the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV), expected to share their experience to help other member states bring their plant variety protection regimes up to international standards.


Copyright harmonisation has received less emphasis than has been given to trademarks or patents, but it does feature in the action plan, with member states encouraged to undertake studies on the contributions of copyright industries to their economies and then share those conclusions with other members, including uniform recordal procedures. Tailand is taking the lead under the AEC in sharing information on how to build and operate collecting societies for effective use of copyright.


ASEAN IP offices have for years faced difficulties such as outdated office infrastructures, insufficiently trained examiners, tremendous backlogs of patent and trademark applications and, of course, rampant IP infringement. Te AEC is striving to develop the necessary framework for regional cooperation in many areas of IP. Te framework goals, if met, will not only improve regional cooperation, but will achieve harmonisation on some legal facets of IP and will help to bring many IP regimes up to best practice international standards. Tis will allow

ASEAN FDAs – A harmonisation model for IP?

While harmonisation of IP registration systems within the 10 nations of ASEAN may be a few years in the making, regional Food & Drug Administrations (FDAs) and Departments of Agriculture have already begun to streamline and harmonise registration procedures.

Cosmetics On January 1, 2008, ASEAN member states implemented the ASEAN Harmonization Cosmetics Regulation Scheme. As a result, a streamlined system and an efficient registration process have replaced the previously chaotic system, and there is now just a solitary category for cosmetic products.

Pharmaceuticals While currently each local FDA has different requirements for registering pharmaceutical products in each ASEAN country, the pharmaceutical industry is leading the way for the implementation of a harmonised regulatory scheme which aims to eliminate technical barriers to trade. Te various FDAs have implemented the ASEAN Common Technical Requirements and Dossier (ACTR/ACTD) on Quality, Safety

stakeholders in the member states to capitalise better on their untapped IP assets and, we hope, serve as a catalyst to improve innovation and encourage technological solutions to what are certain to be daunting, yet exciting, challenges to a rising integrated economy. n

Darani Vachanavuttivong is the co-managing partner of Tilleke & Gibbins. She can be contacted at:

Alan Adcock is a partner at Tilleke & Gibbins. He can be contacted at:

and Efficacy, which provides guidelines on analytical and process validation, stability studies, and bioavailability/bioequivalence.

Medical devices Each member state has until 2014 to implement the new requirements established by the Medical Device Working Group, to finalise the harmonisation process for all medical devices.

Food In 2009, the AEC adopted the ASEAN Integrated Food Security Framework and Strategy Plan of Action for ASEAN Food Security and is currently considering using the Codex General Standards for Food Additives (GSFA) as the basis for harmonisation.

Agricultural products and livestock Harmonisation of agricultural products is also well underway, with the 2006 ASEAN Good Agricultural Practices for Fresh Fruit and Vegetables (ASEAN GAP) adopted as a standard for the production, harvesting, and post-harvest handling of fruits and vegetables in the region. Other harmonisation standards include accreditation of livestock establishments and livestock products.

Darani Vachanavuttivong


managing director of the firm’s IP department. Vachanavuttivong helps clients protect their IP rights in Tailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar.

Alan Adcock is deputy director of the IP department and has extensive experience in IP acquisitions, strategic structuring, technology transfer, IP licensing and securitisation agreements, and franchising.

World Intellectual Property Review January/February 2012


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