The European patent system is known as the European Patent Convention (EPC). There are currently 38 member states of the EPC, and a further 4 so-called “extension” and “validation” states to which the effect of a European patent can be extended on request by the applicant. This possibility arises from bilateral agreements between the countries concerned and the European Patent Office.
While most of these countries are in, or are close to, Europe, there is no geographical constraint on the countries that can enter into such an agreement. Cambodia now looks set to become the first Asian country to recognise European patents, having signed a validation agreement to extend the effect of European patents to Cambodia.
Before the agreement enters into force it needs to be adopted into Cambodian law. A tentative date for this of 1 July 2017 has been suggested.
However, it is important to be aware that Cambodia intend to take advantage of the WTO waiver on protection for pharmaceutical products, and protection will not extend to pharmaceutical patents and test data until the end of a transitional period. The transitional period is currently set to run until 1 January 2033. This has already been extended a number of times, and there is no reason to believe it may not be extended further.
An extension to the potential coverage of a European patent is good news for applicants, offering the chance to gain protection in an additional territory without the need to file a separate application there. Cambodia is one of the fastest growing economies in Southeast Asia, and may be a market of interest to some clients.
If you would like any further information, or would like to discuss your own IP needs, then please contact AdamsonJones.