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Southeast Asia Update

A roundup of the newsworthy mentions in the Southeast Asian from the first quarter of 2020.


Snagging the headlines in Singapore early March, on top of the COVID-19 coverage, is the nomination of IPOS’ current Chief Executive, Mr Daren Tang, by WIPO’s Coordination Committee, for the position of WIPO Director General.

His nomination is due to be confirmed by the WIPO General Assembly in early May, with official duties beginning from 1 October 2020 for a six-year term.


Since its accession to the Madrid Protocol on 27 December 2019, Malaysia has received more than 400 international registrations from abroad, as well as 15 applications for overseas filing by its local entrepreneurs through the system.

Malaysia is one of the last two member states of ASEAN (besides Myanmar) to join the Madrid Protocol.


Since the announcement of the new trademark laws in Myanmar in 2019, IP circuits around the world has been waiting with bated breath for its implementation, including and in particular, the launch of the “soft opening” period. While rumoured to start from as early as 20 December 2019, to a later date of 1 January 2020, the first quarter of 2020 has slipped by without further news.

Meanwhile, trademark owners seeking registration in Myanmar continue to do so by way of filing of Declaration of Ownership and the customary publication of cautionary notice(s) in the local daily newspapers.


Elsewhere in ASEAN, Philippines had been delisted from the European Union’s priority watch list of countries concerning counterfeiting and piracy as of 8 January 2020. Philippines had been downgraded to the priority 3 category – countries of the least concern – since 2015. Reasons for the delisting are two-fold: there were very few complaints received from stakeholders; and the increase in the relative importance of other countries for EU right holders.


The Indian Patent Office and the Japan Patent Office jointly launched a pilot Patent Prosecution Highway (“PPH”) program effective from December 2019, allowing applicants to request for expedited examination under certain guidelines (“PPH Guidelines”), but limiting to no more than 100 applications per year, on a first-come-first-served basis.

A version of this article was first published in the membership journal of the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys – see more at http://www.cipa.org.uk/