Washington International Law Journal


Members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations ("ASEAN") have come to recognize that rigorous protection for industrial and technological innovations is essential to the economic viability of the Southeast Asian region. This recognition has heightened since the inception of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights ("TRIPs"). TRIPs imposes minimum standards for patent protection upon signatories to the World Trade Organization, which includes most of the ASEAN member countries. Strict compliance with TRIPs standards can severely aggravate the administrative deficiencies in national patent systems, but such deficiencies can be considerably alleviated with the institution of a regional patent scheme for the administration of patents. In addition to the definite advantages that an ASEAN Patent Office will present for individual countries, the ASEAN members can also ensure patent owners optimum patent protection only with the adoption of uniform post-grant enforcement procedures. In the absence of such procedures, patents granted in either the national ASEAN offices or the regional office would be accorded inadequate protection in light of existing weak enforcement mechanisms for intellectual property rights. These weaknesses are exacerbated by cultural and political norms unfavorable to national efforts at heightened protection. Accordingly, a unitary ASEAN patent law is indispensable if the ASEAN countries are to maintain internationally competitive markets and achieve vigorous economic development.

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