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Cambodia to protect European patents

Cambodia is set to become the first country in Southeast Asia to recognise and protect European patents after the Minister of Industry and Handicrafts signed an agreement with the European Patent Office (EPO) yesterday.

The agreement, expected to come into effect in July, places Cambodia among eight non-European countries – including Japan, China and South Korea – that recognise European innovations. It also allows companies and individuals to obtain patent protection in up to 43 European and non-European countries with a single European patent application.

EPO president Benoît Battistelli said the new validation agreement with Cambodia was positive news for the development of the European patent system.

“It extends its attractiveness beyond the European market and its immediate neighbourhood,” he said, according to a press release.

“The recognition of the European patent by an Asian country demonstrates its global impact, also in the context of a least-developed economy.”

EPO predicts that Cambodia could benefit from further European investment due to the legal framework of the deal. While the patent agreement protects European intellectual property rights, European pharmaceuticals are exempted from the agreement as Cambodia applied its World Trade Organization waiver.

Pich Ang, director of the Intellectual Property Association of Cambodia, said that the Ministry of Industry and Handicrafts has been aggressively pushing to be included in patent agreements and the government considers it a key pillar for global economic inclusion.

“This shows that Cambodia wants to strengthen its protection for intellectual property,” he said. “And we see this as a positive move that could increase European investor confidence and possibly bring more European products to Cambodia.”

However, he said that with such an agreement, Cambodia has to improve on its capacity to ensure that intellectual property rights are indeed legally protected.

“We have to see how the agreement plays out and if the ministry can show it had a good reason to be in this partnership,” he said.

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