19 September 2013Patents

Thailand updates patent examination guidelines

The Thai patent office has finished updating its guidelines for examining patents covering drugs and chemicals.

According to Nick Redfearn, deputy chief executive of law firm Rouse, who blogged on the topic, the guidelines are expected to be ready for September 30.

The updates are aimed at clarifying guidelines for Thai examiners, who have been held back in the past by unclear guidance that has contributed towards delays in examination and granting.

Such unclear guidelines were also said to lead to ‘evergreening’ of drug patents – a controversial subject in Thailand – Redfearn said.

“The new chemical and drug patent examination guidelines, expanded from the main patent examination guidelines, last updated in 2012, are aimed to set clearer and generally acceptable standards for examining patent applications filed in these fields and purposefully remove the current backlogs and ease concerns over patent ‘evergreening’.”

The updates follow several meetings at the Thai patent office between groups including drug manufacturers, practitioners and patent examiners.

According to Wongrat Ratanaprayul, Attorney-at-Law at Tilleke & Gibbins in Bangkok, the guidelines have been split into two sections covering the examination of patent and petty patent applications with regard to both chemicals and pharmaceuticals.

“The guidelines emphasise and reinforce the fundamental bases of patentability according to Section 5 of Patent Act B.E. 2522 (Thailand’s patent act),” Ratanaprayul told WIPR.

“This mentions that a patent may be granted only for an invention in respect of which the following conditions are satisfied, the invention is new, involves an inventive step and is capable of industrial application.”

Prateep Naboriboon, senior consultant & patent agent, also at Tilleke & Gibbins, claimed the new guidelines will be helpful to patent examiners by ensuring “a more consistent understanding of particular claimed subjects or claim structure.”

“In my opinion, however, the new guidelines will only have an impact on the preliminary examination.  In practice, the effectiveness of novelty and inventive step examination will not improve, as the examiner will still rely on foreign patent as a basis for grant, while the new guidelines will only limit the scope of allowable claims to be in line with the new public policy.”

The draft examination guidelines were drawn up on September 13.

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