As per the latest version of ASEAN Patent Examination Co-operation (ASPEC) Guideline, acceptance of participating IP Office-issued Written Opinion (WO) offically came into force from 15 June 2021. Written opinion is currently an acceptable S&E result for all participating AMS IP Offices, the most notable exception to this being IP Office of Thailand (DIP).
The ASEAN Patent Examination Co-operation (ASPEC) is the first regional patent work-sharing programme among nine (9) participating Offices of ASEAN Member States (AMS) including Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam. The programme, which was commenced on 15 June 2019, enables the participating AMS IP Offices to utilise the search and examination (“S&E”) results from the another as reference in its own S&E work.
Prior to the aforementioned WO acceptance, only the final S&E results from the another IP Office (so-called first IP Office) may be adopted and considered by the participating AMS IP Office (so-called second IP Office) as it receives under the ASPEC request. It is however not obliged to adopt any of the conclusions established by the first Office, meaning that the second Office will proceed with and conclude its S&E work as well as decide on whether to grant a patent in a manner which is in alliance with its national laws.
With effect from 15 June 2021, applicants can utilise written opinion established by another participating AMS IP Office. Written opinion (WO) refers to a non-final assessment of the novelty, inventive step and industrial applicability of the claimed invention that is issued by participating AMS IP Offices. Examples of names of “written opinion” used in AMS are “written opinion” in Brunei, Singapore and the Philippines, “notification of refusal” in Vietnam and “adverse report” in Malaysia.
For ASPEC request which relies on a written opinion (one WO is used) or written opinions (more than one WO are used), along with the ASPEC Request Form and precribed documents, namely a copy of (i) a search report, (ii) a written opinion or an examination report, and (iii) claims referred to in the written opinion or the examination report (A claim correspondence table is optional), applicants are required to email the monitoring authority (email@example.com) and respective ASPEC focal point with needed information as below:
- Application no. from first IP Office ;
- Desired second IP Office and application no. in the second IP Office;
- Date of ASPECT request;
- Reliance on written opinion or written opinions; and
- Name of applicant.
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