New regulations for computer program examinations in Vietnam

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New regulations for computer program examinations in Vietnam

Computer programs are protected by copyright law in Vietnam. However, there are some computer programs protected by patent law. This is made clear in the recent Vietnam Guidelines for Patent Examination (Guidelines). So, what are the new regulations for computer program examinations in Vietnam?

The regulations on computer programs are detailed in Article 5.8.2.5 of the Vietnam Guidelines for Patent Examination (Guidelines).

Specifically, the computer program-related invention is a type of “invention made by the computer”.

This term refers to objects related to computers, computer networks, or other programmable devices that at a first glance look at one or more indications of the subject matter claimed by the program(s).

Although a computer program falls under the category of objects that are not protected in the name of an invention, if the object of the claim is of a technical nature and is indeed a technical solution, intended to solve a problem by a technical means to create a technical effect, it can be protected as a patent. 

Or in other words, if a computer program, when run on a computer, produces a technical effect other than the normal physical effects, then that program is likely to be protected as a patent. 

Thus, a computer program can be considered patentable if the program, when run on the computer, can produce a technical effect other than the usual interactions between programs and computers. 

The examination of patentable computer programs

The Intellectual Property Office of Vietnam recently published Annex I, which contains additional guidelines, to supplement the provisions regarding computer program examinations. 

The additional guidelines are not for determining novelty and inventive steps. Rather, they are for determining whether the patentable subject matter is excluded from patent protection.

The examination of a patent application will undergo 2 main stages: formal examination and substantive examination.

For computer programs, the process is the same. However, as this subject is mostly protected by copyright law, the examiners will focus more closely on the patentability of the subject according to the IP Law of Vietnam.

In Vietnam, an invention is defined as a technical solution in the form of a product or a process, so it must have technical features. As a result, if the examiner determines that the claimed subject matter lacks technical features, such as the presence of hardware, the patent application will be denied.

If the claimed subject matter has a technical character, the examiner will take into account whether it produces additional technical effects that go above and beyond the “normal” physical interactions between the program (software) and the computer (hardware) on which it is run. If not, the application will be denied because the subject matter is not considered patentable.

*** Other Articles***

– You could visit here to see the Trademark Registration in Vietnam.

– You can also check the Vietnam Trademark Law: Detailed Guide And Legal Notes.

– You could check Questions of filing trademark in Vietnam: POA, Trademark requirement and trademark fee in Vietnam.

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