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The First-Ever Patent, A New Chapter in Cambodia

Issued: September 14 2015

After overcoming the crisis, the economy of Cambodia has significantly developed since 1999. Nowadays, Cambodia has officially become the 148th member of Word Trade Organization.

Not only stabilizing the economy, the Cambodia government but also constantly strengthens international relationships and law systems, especially in the IP sector, says Nguyen Duc Xuan, managing partner at at Ageless IP Attorneys & Consultants in Hanoi. "Cambodia has become a member of World Intellectual Property Organization in July 1995 as well as Paris Convention for protection of industrial property in September 1998."

On December 31, 2002, Law on Patents, Utility Model Certificates and Industrial Designs in Cambodia has official validity, which helped contribute a legal ground to enforce IPRs, approaching investment and technology activities and integrating world economy. According to this law, protection of patent objects “may be, or may relate to, a product or a process.” At the same time, this law also excludes some objects which are not protected as patent, such as: Discoveries, scientific theories; Schemes, rules or methods for doing business, performing purely mental acts or playing games; Methods for treatment of the human or animal body by surgery or therapy…, especially pharmaceutical products. These are the exceptions of TRIPS agreement which Cambodia is allowed to apply till 2021 in the situation that Cambodia people hardly afford Pharmaceutical products.

Due to many barriers, not until 2015 that Cambodia could grant the first patent, which marks a new development of this country’s IP system.

In the early of 21 century, Cambodia Industrial activity has traditionally centered on the processing of agricultural and forestry products and on the small-scale manufacture of consumer goods. Rice milling has been the main food-processing industry. However, the new technology is limited and they themself are now producing by low technology.  

Deriving from the above-mentioned economic development, the number of patent applications filed in Cambodia is insufficient, Nguyen says. "According to the statistics, from 2010 to 2015, no patents have been filed by any Cambodian inventors - all applicants are foreigners."

Below is a chart shows the number of patent filing of applications in the last five years:

The chart shows the number of Patent & utility model filing of applications from 2010-2014.

"However, Cambodia still has advantages such as: having a great potential of resources, human resources and especially its position, which has been predicted to be developed in the near future, which led to Cambodia encouraging foreign investment and offers incentives to investors," Nguyen says. "The main investing countries are Malaysia and Taiwan. They are mostly aimed at the textile industry, services (banks, tourism, and telecommunications) and the mining and agricultural sector."

Since that, Rate of GDP in Cambodia grew 7.2% in 2013 from the previous year. GDP Annual Growth Rate in Cambodia averaged 7.7% from 1994 until 2013, reaching all time high of 13.4% in 2005 and a record low of 0.1% in 2009. So recently, Cambodia is prioritizing in developing in technology, mechanization of agriculture and forestry which requires for Patent protection. says Nguyen.

Nowadays,the Department of Industrial Property performs the evaluation of the patent application. However, the few personnel number, six patent examiners, is certainly a setback.

Besides, they also have not faced conflicts and comparison of patent rights like those in China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.

Under Law on Patents, Utility Model Certificates and Industrial Designs in Cambodia, the time of patent examination is 32 months from the filing date. However, it is not implemented yet. In 2007, the first patent application is filed in 2007 and the first patent was granted in Cambodia on March 4, 2015. Not only this is considered as a big milestone for Cambodia IP system development in general and patent system in specific, but also a good sign for enterprises or groups to invest more in Cambodia.


It is a long road but in the view of the down development of European, the issuance of the first Cambodia patent is a good sign in the situation that South East Asia countries is rising in the world economy, says Nguyen.