Laos IP Development

Laos was founded in the 8th century AD and invaded successively by France, Japan and US and other countries from the 19th century. In October 1945, Laos gained independence; in December 1975, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic was established. Since the renovation and opening up in 1986, Laos has gradually established the market economy system. In July 1997, Laos joined the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN); in October 2012, Laos was accepted officially by WTO as the 158th member state.
In January 1995, Laos joined the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO); in October 1998, it became a member state of the Paris Convention; in June 2006, it became the 129th state party to the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). The IP Law of Laos was put into effect on April 14, 2008, which specifies that IP includes industrial property, new plant variety, and copyright and related rights (neighboring rights). Industrial property further includes patents (inventions), petty patents, industrial designs, trademarks, layout designs of integrated circuits, source of origin and trade secrets.
The Laos’Department of Intellectual Property of the Ministry of Science and Technology handles all the IP affairs including patents and trademarks, under which the Office of Patents, Petty Patents and Industrial Product Appearance, the Trademark Office and the Office of Legal Affairs are established.
Patent
In Laos, documents have to be submitted by an applicant to Laos’ Department of Intellectual Property of the Ministry of Science and Technology in case of patent applications. A foreign applicant also needs to submit the power of attorney and the request, abstract, claim, instructions and diagrams as required as well as make a list.
Pursuant to Laos’ IP Law, it is the right of the inventor or designer to apply for patents. The patent is named after the inventor. The invention patent has to meet three such substantial conditions as the novelty, creativity and practicability. Currently, the first-to-file rule is implemented for patent applications in Laos, based on which the first applicant or the applicant with effective priority will be granted the patent, when two or more persons apply for the patent for one same invention.
Apart from invention patents, petty patents and industrial designs are also included in the patent system of Laos. A petty patent has to meet two conditions namely the novelty and practicability, compared to industrial design, which only has to be novel. The term of protection of invention patents in Laos is 20 years from the application date, during which the patentee has to pay annual fee every year; the term of protection of petty patents is 10 years from the application date and can be renewed once for a period of 2 years, during which the patentee has to pay annual fee every year; the term of protection of industrial design is 15 years from the application date, during which the owner of industrial design has to pay annual fee every 5 years.
Trademark
Laos’ Trademark Law was established in 1994 and effected from January 1995. In accordance with relevant laws, trademark registration is the condition precedent for a trademark user to gain the exclusive right in the trademark. Only the approved and registered trademarks are protected by law. The trademark affairs in Laos are the responsibility of the Trademark Office of the Department of Intellectual Property of the Ministry of Science and Technology. Trademarks can be divided into commodity trademarks, service marks, collective marks and three-dimensional marks. The term of protection of registered trademarks is 10 years from the application date and can be renewed.
 
Copyright and Neighboring Right Protection
The copyright protection in Laos covers the lifetime of the author and 50 years after his death. The term of protection expires 50 years after the last death of authors in case of joint authorship. If the author is an organization, the copyright protection can last for 50 years after the creation of the work.
In Laos, the right of any performer can be protected for 50 years after the performance; the right of any audio-video producer can be protected for 50 years as of the publicity of the audio-video, or 50 years upon the first release of the audio-video if the audio-video is published or released; the right of any audio-video transmitter can be protected for 50 years after the audio-video is broadcast.
 
Other IP Protection
In Laos, a new plant variety means the plant variety that is formed by artificial breeding or development of any discovered wild plant to gain the novelty, specificity, consistency and stability, with proper names. The term of protection of new plant varieties is 25 years and 15 years from the application date for perennial plants and annual plants respectively, during which annual fee has to be paid every year.
In Laos, the term of protection of integrated circuit designs is 12 years, during which the designer is required to pay the annual fee every year in advance. The protection of the source of origin is permanent after the registration is approved, for which the fee shall be paid off at once.



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