Vietnam – IP agent qualifying examination cancellation in 2021 and proposed changes

CategoriesHighlights, Legal News, Trends and IP Practice in Vietnam

CANCELLATION IN 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic in Vietnam is still complicated, large gatherings of people would be considered. In light of this situation, the Intellectual Property Office of Vietnam (IPVN) has issued Notice No. 9232/TB-SHTT dated 8 October 2021 to officially announce that it will not conduct the qualifying examination for industrial property agent (IP agent) in 2021. As expected, the examination will be conducted in 2022 when the epidemic situation is stabilized.

This examination is often conducted in the fourth quarter of each two years. It is very difficult to pass the examination, and even in some years, no individual passes all the five subjects of the examination: (i) patent practice, (ii) industrial design practice, (iii) trademark practice, (iv) Intellectual Property (IP) information, and (v) the Law on IP.

PROPOSED CHANGES TO LAW

Under the current regulations, in Vietnam, the candidates must:

(i) be a Vietnamese citizen,

(ii) reside permanently in Vietnam,

(iii) hold a university degree,

(iv) have practiced in the field of industrial property law for at least five consecutive years  or have graduated from a training course on industrial property law recognized by competent agencies,

(v) not be a person who is working for the state agencies responsible for the registration and protection of IP rights, and

(vi) pass a qualifying examination.

Legislators have found problems with these regulations. Amended articles relating to this issue have been introduced to a draft of amendments to the Law on IP. The Government has submitted the draft to the National Assembly of Vietnam. It is scheduled that the National Assembly will discuss the draft in October – November 2021 and proceed with the approval procedure in May 2022. The draft may be amended before approval.

According to the proposals, instead of granting a single type of IP agent certificates to practice all fields, two types of certificates will be granted. Along with this, the conditions for granting them were also proposed in the draft.

Conditions for a trademark, geographical indication, trade name, repression of unfair competition, and business secret agent

In the draft, a change to Requirement (iii) above was proposed. Specifically, “university degree” is replaced by “Bachelor’s degree or an equivalent to a Bachelor’s degree”.

However, the main change was that a qualified lawyer will not necessarily pass the qualifying examination which is very difficult to pass as mentioned above.

Conditions for a patent, industrial design, and layout-designs agent

With regards to these fields, which are involved in certain scientific and technical knowledge, only those individuals who were awarded a Bachelor’s degree or an equivalent to a Bachelor’s degree in natural science or engineering science are conditioned to participate in the qualifying examination. The other conditions remain unchanged.

Our comments: The current regulations specify only one set of conditions for all fields. This is an issue. The proposed amended articles are to specify two separate sets of conditions appropriate for the two groups of fields as mentioned above. The changes seem to be reasonable. For example, a lawyer attending a simple training course on industrial property law would be able and appropriate to be a trademark agent (an increase of the quantity of IP agents) and a patent agent would require a Bachelor’s degree or an equivalent to a Bachelor’s degree in natural science or engineering science (an increase of the quality of IP agents).

By Nguyen Thi Le Na

Patent Department – INVESTIP IP LAW FIRM