Singapore is trumpeting its latest MoU signed with the National Office of Intellectual Property of Vietnam (NOIP). The somewhat vague deal promises collaboration, promotion, assistance to businesses, administration and capacity building, technology transfer, commercialization and IP valuation. Lofty aims but it is unclear how this will help patent owners. Vietnam’s patent system is largely fine. However too few patents are filed there and local innovation is almost nonexistent.
The deal is probably more important to Singapore which is setting itself up to be a regional hub for IP in ASEAN. This is useful for many businesses that need a regional hub and Singapore is well positioned to be that. To be truly effective Singapore needs to be able to provide regional resources to businesses, which is its stated goal.
The main regional success seems to be the ASEAN Patent Examination Co-operation (ASPEC) program which reduces the cost and time to obtain patents in ASEAN countries. So far all patents which received ASPEC requests received first office actions within 6 months – very fast for the region. This is possible as examiners can use other office's reports for corresponding patent applications.