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It has been announced that the European Patent Office (EPO) has signed an agreement with the Cambodian Ministry of Industry and Handicraft (MIH) to enable European patents to be validated in Cambodia. The agreement must still be ratified by the Cambodian government, and a tentative implementation date of 1 July 2017 has been suggested.
Cambodia will not be a member of the EPC, nor a so-called extension state. Instead, the validation agreement is a bilateral arrangement between the EPO and the MIH. Similar bilateral agreements are already in force enabling validation of European patents in Morocco and Moldova. A similar agreement with Tunisia was signed in July 2014, but has yet to be ratified, and so has not yet entered into force.
The practical result of this announcement is that it will be possible to cover up to 43 countries with a single European patent application. Any applicant filing a European patent application (or a PCT application designating Europe) after the Cambodian validation agreement comes into force will be able to request validation in Cambodia, and a validation fee will need to be paid to the EPO within the same period as for paying designation and extension fees. The system is very similar in effect to the current extension state system.
One caveat of the Cambodian validation agreement is that it will likely not be possible to obtain patent protection in Cambodia under this agreement for pharmaceutical products. This is because Cambodia has signalled its intention to make use of a waiver available to countries classified by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) as least-developed country members to deny patent protection for pharmaceutical products for the duration of a transitional period. This transitional period currently lasts until January 2033, although may be extended beyond this date in the future. The Cambodian government may however withdraw their enforcement of this waiver at any time.
Cambodian validation will also not be available for European patent applications filed before the Cambodian validation agreement enters into force, or any European patents resulting from such applications.
The EPO 's announcement can be seen here.