Although it might sound surprising, it has actually happened! On January 23, 2017, the President of the EPO, Benoît Battistelli, and the Cambodian Minister of Industry, Cham Prasidh, signed an agreement that makes it possible for Applicants to extend their European patents to Cambodia. This will increase the number of European and non-European jurisdictions in which protection via a single European patent application can be obtained to 43. It must be noted, however, that pharmaceutical products will be excluded from the Cambodian agreement for the duration of the transitional period.
Cambodia, which is situated between Thailand and Vietnam, will become the third non-European validation state (i.e. besides Morocco and Moldova) to which European patent protection can be extended on July 1st 2017, when the agreement is due to be adopted into Cambodian law. With a population of roughly 15 million people and a nominal GDP of USD 1,227 per capita, Cambodia’s main industry is in the production of garments and textiles, which makes up approximately 80% of its overall USD 8.4 billion worth of exports. The country also has a thriving rubber industry.
This development with the EPO is in line with Cambodia's current progressive IP policy. Cambodia also joined the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) on December 8, 2016.
Any European patent application submitted after the validation agreement has entered into force, is deemed to automatically request a validation in Cambodia. However, this request will be considered withdrawn if the validation fee is not paid within 6 months of the publication of the European search report or, where applicable, within the period for performing the acts required for entry into the European phase of an international application. No definitive fee has been determined yet, but judging by the validation agreements of Morocco and Moldova it should be in the range of EUR 200 – 240. With regard to the translation requirements, it has been agreed that only the claims will have to be translated into Khmer and English.
It remains to be seen how well the extension of European patent protection will work within the framework of the Cambodian judicial system in the future.
Autor: Wolfgang Sandmann and Konstantin Krautgasser
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