ASPEC – Cooperation Program among participating ASEAN countries to continue safeguard patents

What is ASPEC?

ASEAN Patent Examination Cooperation (ASPEC) Programme was first introduced back in June 2009. This programme aims to share and utilize search and examination results between the participating IP offices to allow applicants in participating countries to obtain corresponding patents faster and more efficiently. There are currently nine participating ASEAN member states namely Brunei Darusssalam, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Viet Nam.

ASPEC also aims to reduce duplication on the search and examination work done, therefore this will eventually save time and effort and serve as a reference in making reports altogether. However, it is not mandatory for the IP offices to follow the search and examination results that they received under ASPEC – IP Offices may consider or proceed with and conclude its search and examination results as well as decide whether to grant the patent according to their national laws.

New Features Introduced as in August 2019.

Starting on August 27, 2019, ASPEC has introduced 2 new features namely ASPEC Acceleration for Industry 4.0 Infrastructure and Manufacturing (ASPEC AIM) and Patent Cooperation Treaty ASPEC (PCT-ASPEC).

Besides that, with effect from 15 June 2021, applicant can also use written opinion established by another participating ASEAN members. Written opinion refers to a non-final assessment of the novelty, inventive step and industrial applicability of the claimed invention that is issued by participating ASEAN members.

Requirements for Requesting ASPEC, ASPEC AIM & PCT-ASPEC

To request for ASPEC or ASPEC AIM or PCT-ASPEC, a patent application in a participating IP office where the ASPEC Request Form is filed (“second IP Office”) must be a corresponding patent application of the other participating IP Office (“first IP Office”) and it is must be supported with the search and examination documents from the first IP Office. 

There are 3 ways to know whether a patent application in the first IP Office is a corresponding application in order to qualify for the request above. The 3 ways are shown below:-

Procedures for Requesting ASPEC, ASPEC AIM & PCT-ASPEC

Now that we have qualified to request for ASPEC, ASPEC AIM or PCT-ASPEC, we have to look at the procedures to request so. This can be seen in the tables below:-

To request for ASPEC & ASPEC AIM:-

To request for PCT-ASPEC:-

This program serves to facilitate the prosecution and expedite the allowance of corresponding patent applications since there are increasing numbers of applicants that for sure are interested to protect patents in these ASEAN countries. Not to mention that this program saves a lot of time and costs, applicants can ensure that they have easy access related to patent protection in these countries.