Myanmar in Close-up

Myanmar (formerly Burma) is a Southeast Asian nation of more than 100 ethnic groups, bordering India, Bangladesh, China, Laos and Thailand. Yangon (formerly Rangoon), the country’s largest city, is home to bustling markets, numerous parks and lakes, and the towering, gilded Shwedagon Pagoda, which contains Buddhist relics and dates to the 6th century. Myanmar is a massive country with a relatively small population. There are miles upon miles of untouched landscapes — soaring mountains, pristine beaches and meandering waterways. Even in the big cities, like Mandalay, it is only a short distance from the busy downtown streets to the rice paddies and countryside.

As well as Buddhism, most people in Myanmar adhere to a traditional, uniquely Burmese religion based around the worship of nature spirits, or ‘Nats’. Representing human flaws or vices, there are 36 Nats in the officially sanctioned pantheon, for which you’ll find shrines in most large Buddhist temples. One of the interesting facts about Myanmar is its iconic Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon. It is the oldest and the most visited Buddhist temple in Myanmar, which was built about 2500 years ago.

Myanmar’s Legal Framework

The legal system of the Union of Myanmar is a unique combination of the customary law of the family, codified English common law and recent Myanmar legislation. The principles of English common and statutory law were implanted in Myanmar by the British law codes of the pre-independence India Statutes. There were three primary sources of law, namely, yazathat, dhammthat and phyat-htone. “Yazathat” means the King’s Royal Edicts and Ordinances which composed of King’s command and criminal laws. “Dhammthat” is derived from the “Hindu Dharmashatra” (treaties on law) which later formed as Myanmar Customary Law.

The legislative authority is vested in the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (The National Parliament) which comprises of the two hluttaws, namely the Pyithu Hluttaw (The People’s Assembly or House of Representatives) and the Amyotha Hluttaw (The National Assembly or Senate) (Section 74, the 2008 Constitution). Pyidaungsu Hluttaw makes laws, authorizes the government to spend public money, scrutinizes government activities, and is a forum for debate on national issues.

Intellectual Property Protection in Myanmar

Myanmar joined to ASEAN on 23rd July, 1997 and also became a 176th member country of WIPO on 15th May, 2001. As a member of WTO, WIPO and ASEAN, we have to abide the obligation of TRIPs Agreement and ASEAN Framework Agreement on IP CO-operation.Myanmar is not a Contracting Party to the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property or to the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). Myanmar is part of the regional IP information platform ASEAN Patentscope. In Myanmar, trademarks are fairly well covered by a combination of common law principles, criminal law and established practice. Other intellectual property is often less protected, or not protected at all.

Myanmar passed four IP laws in 2019 to bring its outdated legal framework in sync with modern times. These four laws are:

  • Trademark Law (enacted on 30th January 2019)
  • Industrial Design Rights Law (enacted on 30th January 2019)
  • Patent Law (enacted on 11th March 2019)
  • Copyright Law (enacted on 24th May 2019)

As a consequence of the enactment of these four laws, an IP Department was established under the Ministry of Commerce, but its only visible functions (currently) seem to be to (i) administer an online (re-) registration system for “existing” trademarks and (ii) organise training for trademark registration agents (whose role, however, would currently be limited to assisting with filing applications to (re-)register “existing” trademarks).

Patent Search

1. Patentability Search
Patentability search is also known as a novelty search, which helps identify whether or not an idea is novel and involves an inventive step (nonobvious). The most complete searches include all types of prior art to give an inventor or organization a comprehensive look at the technology landscape. A patentability search should be completed during the ideation phase, as well as prior to disclosure.
A patentability search is conducted by examining published patents that relate to your own invention to figure out whether your idea has already been patented. You can also see similar inventions, allowing you to improve and refine your own invention without infringing on someone else’s patent. And you can do all this before you have spent many hours and thousands of dollars on an idea that you can’t patent.
2. Freedom to Operate Search
A freedom to operate search (often abbreviated as FTO) determines how similar your product is to existing patents, and therefore how likely you are to infringe on a patent by making and marketing your invention. You may also see this type of search called a patent infringement search or right-to-use search.
Completing an FTO search early in the innovation cycle helps R&D teams design around existing patents. Later on, the results of the search can identify whether you may need to license other patents to bring your product to market.
3. State of the Art Search
Completing a state of the art search (also known as a product clearance or patent landscape search) allows you to examine the literature related to a specific industry, rather than around a certain technology, which may be applicable across industries. Using a state of the art search helps businesses find competitors and existing products within their field. These insights allow researchers, engineers, and leaders to make strategic decisions at any point within the innovation cycle.
4. Invalidity Search
To assess the strength of a specific patent, companies will use an invalidity search. This is also called a validity search. The results of this search determine whether or not the patent holder can claim infringement. They can also be used to decide licensing fees or value. If an invalidity search finds evidence in the form of existing, yet undiscovered, prior art, the patent should not have been granted and is unenforceable. This type of patent search is completed after a patent is granted.
5. Evidence of Use Search
Some organizations actively seek out products that infringe on their patent rights. This type of search is called an evidence of use search. To find these products, an organization or inventor will review similar patents and look for evidence the patent is utilized in a way that infringes on the searcher’s rights. Evidence of use searches happen after a patent is granted and as it matures.
6. Search Database
There are several databases in which patent searching may be done. Many databases such as USPTO, Google Patents, Free Patents Online, esp@cenet etc. are freely available, while other databases such as ThomsonInnovation, Orbit, Patbase etc. are available on the basis of a subscription. Each of these databases varies in terms of at least one of the following: Data Coverage, Search Engine, Interface.
• Google Patent Search Database. The Google search engine has revolutionized how people use the Internet. …;
• Patentscope. Patentscope is a free database put out by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)…;
• The USPTO Database…;
• Espace European Database…
The following are some of the largest and most popular patent office databases.
• Canadian Patents Database (CIPO)…;
• Espacenet (EPO)…;
• JP-PlatPat (JPO)…;
• PatentScope (WIPO)…;
• U.S. Patent Assignment Database (USPTO)…;
• U.S. Patent Center (USPTO)…;
• U.S. Patent Databases (USPTO).
However, an inventor or applicant can also conduct their own patent search. The inventor or applicant has the advantage of often being more familiar with the art to which the invention relates, including having an understanding of the common knowledge held by persons skilled in the art and the relevant terminology.

Patent drafting is a part of how to patent an idea and is the process of writing the patent description and claims. It is at the core of every patent application. When the patent is issued or allowed, the draft serves as the specification part of the document. The patent applicants have to be more aware that depending on how well the complete specification is drafted and how precisely and correctly the claims describe the invention or the imaginary ‘boundary” is set, the easier it will be to defend it against third parties.
Normally, a patent specification covers the following parts:
• Field of Invention: It generally discloses a field to which the invention generally relates.
• Background: It discloses existing devices or methods related to the field of invention, broadly known as prior art. Background generally discloses prior art and limitations or disadvantages associated with the prior art.
• Summary of Invention: It (i) discloses the objectives of the invention, (ii) generally lists distinguishing features and advantages of the invention for which protection is being sought, (iii) summarizes the main features of the invention to be claimed, and (iv) also includes a broader explanation of the invention and briefly mentions the solution provided by the invention.
• Brief Description of Drawings (if any): If the invention includes any drawings, then this section includes a description of the drawing briefly such that a reader can get an overview of what could be disclosed by the drawing. The drawings are to be prepared in separate sheets as per different guidelines of different jurisdictions. The drawing sheets are filed with the patent specification.
• Detailed Description of Invention: It explains the different features of the invention in detail. Detailed description should be written such that a skilled person in the art can understand the invention solely after referring to this description. All claimed features and their interconnections, if any, need to be explained. In other words, all the claimed features need to be well supported in the detailed description.
• Claim(s): Claims are the most important part of a patent draft. Claims decide the scope of the protection which would be awarded to the inventor when the patent is granted. Claims are broadly divided into two categories, independent claim, and dependent claim. Every patent draft or patent application must contain at least one independent claim. Claims tend to change in course of the examination (narrower in most cases than the originally filed claims.
• Abstract: It is a technical summary of the invention. Generally, the Abstract should disclose the invention sufficiently to enable a person to perform a search for anticipation. The publication of a patent application includes publication of the abstract and representative drawing, if any.
• Drawings: Not all specifications have drawings. Such drawings, if any, would be prepared and submitted to the Patent Office in separate sheets. Different jurisdictions have different rules for allowable drawing sheets.

The significance of patent drafting and its impact on the patent protection should be conveyed to the SMEs, start-ups and inventors along with the information on importance of the patent protection in general. They should be informed that in case of any opposition or challenging the validity of their patent by a third party, a poorly drafted patent will be easily invalidated.

A patent is a right granted to an individual or enterprise by the government which excludes others from making, using, selling, or importing the patented product or process without prior approval. Patent filing or patent registration is the first step an inventor takes to protect his/her invention from being misused.
Under Vietnam legislation, there exists three kinds of patents, i.e. Invention Patent, Utility Solution Patent and Design Patent. Patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or compositions of matters, or any new useful improvement thereof. Patent filing is essential for establishing definitive, enforceable IP rights for your inventions, covering all relevant jurisdictions. A patent registers your invention and lets you take legal action against anyone who makes, uses, sells or imports your invention without your permission.
You should be aware of the examination process conducted by the Intellectual Property Office of Vietnam (IP Vietnam). This process begins with the filing of a patent application with IP Vietnam and completed by granting a patent (if the invention meets the protection criteria) or rejection/refusal (if the invention does not the protection criteria).
We can help you with such a patent prosecution by drafting a patent specification or translating such specification into local language, filing, and negotiating with IP Vietnam’s examiners regarding the patentability of the invention in order to obtain patent protection and rights for an invention.

An opposition proceeding is an administrative process available under the patent law of many jurisdictions which allows third parties to formally challenge the validity of a pending patent application (pre-grant opposition), of a granted patent (post-grant opposition).
Once the patent application is published, an opposition may be filed within a certain time period prescribed under the applicable law. The opponent shall state the grounds for opposition and submit any evidence. If no opposition is filed during that period, the substantive examination will be carried out.
In the meantime, an applicant for a patent, any of whose claims has been twice rejected, may appeal from the decision of examiners to IP Vietnam, having once paid the fee for such appeal.


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