As we step into the year 2024, Vietnam’s intellectual property landscape is undergoing a significant transformation in the digital realm. From January 1, 2024, the Intellectual Property Office of Vietnam (IP Vietnam) will initiate a remarkable change; trademark registration applications in Vietnam will now be accessible to the public at an earlier stage.
The background of this transformation
In recent years, IP Vietnam introduced the Digital Library of Industrial Property (Digital Library), an online search platform that provides public access. This platform allows users to search for information related to trademarks, patents, and designs, whether they are still under examination or already registered. Updates to this database typically occur about once a month.
In the past, stakeholders such as direct trademark applicants, attorneys, and third parties faced lengthy waiting periods. It often took three months or even longer for trademark applications to become visible in the Digital Library.
Significant changes have come about as a result of Article 110.1(a) of Vietnam’s amended Law on Intellectual Property 2022, which states “Applications for registration of trademarks which have not been accepted as being valid by the State administrative body in charge of industrial property rights shall be made public immediately upon receipt”. Following this came the issuance of Decision No. 1057/QD-SHTT by the Director General of IP Vietnam on October 26, 2023 (Decision 1057). This critical decision accelerated the process of early disclosure of trademark applications on the Digital Library.
What lies ahead in 2024?
Decision 1057 marks a momentous transformation in the trademark registration process in Vietnam. This shift may provide valuable benefits to stakeholders, including at least two advantages as follows:
Well-informed decision-making in filing strategies
The Digital Library serves as a user-friendly search platform that stakeholders can integrate into their regular processes when selecting and clearing new trademarks.
IP Vietnam usually complete the formal examination of a trademark application within a month from the filing date. Once an application meets formal requirements, IP Vietnam issues a notice confirming acceptance. The trademark application becomes public in the second month from the acceptance date through publication in the Official Industrial Property Gazette of IP Vietnam and is uploaded to the Digital Library.
With the early disclosure of filed applications, we can hope that stakeholders can identify pending applications for identical or similar trademarks with more accurate search results based on the most current information. This allows them to revise or choose a different trademark to avoid potential conflicts. In such a scenario, the Digital Library becomes a valuable platform for conducting due diligence on trademarks considered for adoption, use, or registration in Vietnam.
Enhanced predictability through early conflict notice
Earlier disclosure of trademark applications offers a significant advantage, especially in the context of opposition procedures. This process allows individuals and businesses in Vietnam and abroad to question whether a trademark application should be approved. They can do this through third-party observations or by initiating an opposition.
In Vietnam, third parties can oppose trademark applications within a fixed five-month period after its publication. IP Vietnam issues a final notice on a settlement after evaluating evidence and arguments presented by both parties. Alternatively, third-party observations can be made from publication until IP Vietnam’s protection decision. Notably, unlike the opposition, IP Vietnam considers third-party observations as reference sources without the issuance of official notifications on resolution.
The major difference between these procedures lies in the time limits for submission. While third-party observations can be made during the substantive examination period, trademark oppositions must be submitted within five months of the publication date of the trademark application.
With the promise of early disclosure of trademark applications on the Digital Library, there will be opportunities for third parties to learn about new trademark applications sooner. This extra time allows them to carefully assess whether they wish to oppose the registration and prepare a strong opposition case.
The transformation in Vietnam’s trademark registration process, with early disclosure of trademark applications on the Digital Library, marks a significant step forward in improving transparency, facilitating informed decision-making, and enhancing predictability. This change has the potential to streamline and enhance Vietnam’s intellectual property landscape.
You may also like…
In a recent case, the car giant Tesla Inc. successfully invalidated the mark TESLA CHICKEN & PIZZA. The...
Would you confuse the below cider drinks? This was considered in a recent claim brought by Thatchers regarding its...
On Friday, March 8, 2024, at 11 AM EST, the International Trademark Association (INTA) is celebrating International...