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Vietnam – Circular No. 6959/TB-SHTT to temporarily ease the stringent signatory requirement by Circular No. 13822/TB-SHTT

The Intellectual Property Office of Vietnam (NOIP) has released a new circular, Circular No. 6959/TB-SHTT (“Circular 6959”) in order to temporarily ease the strict requirements in relation to the signatory requirements of the formal documents in relation to patent applications such as powers of attorney, deeds of assignment, etc. submitted to the NOIP previously imposed by Circular No. 13822/TB-SHTT (“Circular 13822”).

Circular 13822, which had been issued on 23 November 2020 by NOIP, required that signatories to formal documents to be submitted to the NOIP must be applicant’s legal representatives themselves. Further, such legal representatives must hold one of the following positions: chairman of the board of members, president (chairman) or a director in the applicant’s company. Alternatively, if the signatory does not hold one of the aforementioned positions, they must provide evidence that evidence that they are eligible to represent the applicant and/or must have the formal documents notarized and legalized in order for it to be accepted by NOIP.

However, as one would expect, these stringent criteria imposed by Circular 13822 had become a burden to many patent applicants in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, where most people have been working from home and are unable to easily adhere to such stringent requirements. Therefore, having considered the obstacles and difficulties that the patent applicants and/or patent practitioners have been experienced in executing the formal documents in the past few months, NOIP has issued Circular 6959 on 14 July 2021 in order to temporarily ease the stringent conditions as imposed by Circular 13822.

With the issuance of the Circular 6959, patent applicants are no longer required to provide evidence to prove the eligibility of the signatory or to have the executed formal documents legalized for those documents signed by any positions other than the chairman of the aboard of member, president (chairman) or director. As such, NOIP will accept the executed documents regardless of the position of the signatory, provided that the signatory accepts all the responsibility for the accuracy of the information submitted to the NOIP. However, in the event that accuracy of the information or documents submitted to the NOIP is disputed, the NOIP will still require the applicant to submit evidence to prove that the signatory is the legal representative of the applicant and/or has the necessary authorization to sign on behalf of the patent applicant; or to notarize the said formal documents. This requirement is especially stringent in relation to transactions involving the recordal of a transfer of rights or a recordal of change of registered patent rights.

This temporary relaxation regulation provided by the Circular 6959 is effective from 14 July 2021. However, it is also applicable to any submission of documents in relation to any formal procedures initiated prior to the effective date of 14 July 2021.