By Linh Nguyen
2022 is coming to an end, with the year bringing many developments in Vietnam. As Vietnam recovers from a challenging 2021 due to the impact of COVID-19, let’s take a look at how the country’s Intellectual Property (IP) landscape was affected in 2021.
2021 saw the country’s lowest national economic growth rate in the past 30 years at 2.58%. In the midst of the gloomy setting of the domestic economic downturn, a snapshot of Vietnam’s IP landscape presented by the official statistics in the Annual Report 2021 shows promise, highlighting bright spots such as the total registrations of IP rights increasing by 3.8% compared to 2020. Other notable trends are discussed below:
1. There were 9,130 patent applications filed with IP Vietnam (IPVN) in 2021 – an increase of 9.1% from the previous year’s total of 8,368 patent applications
The increased rate is highly impressive, as it is triple that of the increase from 2019 to 2020. While 2020 marked a decrease in the number of patent applications filed by non-Vietnamese applicants compared to the previous year, this was not the case in 2021 as a major contribution to the increased rate comes from the sharp rise in invention patent applications filed by non-Vietnamese applicants.
The top five countries that filed patent applications in 2020 and 2021 are as follows:
Despite remaining in the first position, the number of applications from Japan decreased by 4.9% in 2021. Meanwhile, after a striking increase of 35% in 2020 compared to the previous year, the number of patent applications filed by Vietnamese applicants only saw a marginal increase in 2021. The top three remained the same while the fourth and fifth countries swapped positions in 2021.
2. The number of national and international design applications designating Vietnam reached a record-breaking 3,595 applications
After a downturn of 8% in 2020 compared to 2019, the number of national design applications increased by 5.13% in 2021, with the filing of applications largely dominated by local Vietnamese applicants.
Marking the second year Vietnam received international design applications under the Hague system, 2021 achieved a 24.7% increase in the number of international design applications designating Vietnam compared to 2020.
3. National trademark applications decreased by 4.8%, while international trademark applications designating Vietnam increased by 2.6% compared to 2020
The number of national trademark applications filed by Vietnamese applicants dominated, representing more than five times the number of non-Vietnamese applications. However, 2021 witnessed a drop in total national trademark filings due to the decline in trademark applications filed by Vietnamese applicants (5.6%) while the number of applications filed by non-Vietnamese ones remained the same.
Although the number of international trademark applications designating Vietnam increased slightly in 2021, the statistics show that there was a decline in trademark filings from the top four foreign countries, especially China:
4. The most popularly-filed patent and trademark applications continue to reflect the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our lives and the “spurt” of recovery post-pandemic
In 2021, the classifications of the most popularly-filed patent and trademark applications in 2021 were once again in the fields of hygiene, medicine and technology.
The two most popular patent classifications were Class “A61 – Medical or veterinary science and hygiene” (i.e., preparations for medical or toilet purposes, chemical compositions used in disinfection, sterilization or deodorization, etc.) and Class “H04 – Electric communication technique” (i.e., multiplex communication, transmission of digital information, wireless communication networks, etc.). This time, however, Class H04 overtook Class A61 in terms of popularity. The recorded figures show an impressive jump of 58% in the number of applications for Class H04 and 9.8% in the number of applications for Class A61 compared to 2020, hitting a 10-year peak.
Meanwhile, trademark applications under the following classes received the highest attention from brand owners seeking trademark registration in Vietnam: Class 35 (i.e., distribution services), Class 5 (i.e., pharmaceuticals and other preparations for medical or veterinary purposes, etc.), Class 3 (i.e., non-medicated toiletry preparations, cleaning preparations for use in the home and other environments, etc.), and Class 9 (i.e., audiovisual and information technology equipment, etc.).
5. Geographical indication (GI) applications in 2021 were once again filed only by Vietnamese applicants, same as in 2020
11 GI applications were filed in 2021 by Vietnamese applicants, equivalent to half of the number filed in 2020. Despite the fact that there were no GI applications filed by non-Vietnamese applicants, Vietnam has recognized and protected a total of 173 European GIs to date, as part of its commitment under the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and UK-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (UKVFTA).
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