In Laos, industrial designs are a type of patent, and therefore, their protection follows a similar principle. Laos applies the firstto-file principle, meaning that priority is determined by whoever files the industrial design application first, or if priority is claimed, the earliest priority date. An application may contain a declaration claiming priority based on one or more earlier national, regional or international applications filed by the applicant, either in Laos or in another country, which is a party to the Paris Convention (or another international treaty to which Laos is a signatory).
Therefore, applications from Convention countries will be granted the same priority date in Laos. In the case of such international applications, the relevant Lao authority only conducts a formal examination of the patent application. While the authority does not make a substantive examination, it recognises and accepts search and examination reports from other IP offices around the world.
The time frame from the filing to granting date of a design application is approximately 6 to 12 months.
An industrial design shall expire five years after the filing date of the application and may be renewed for two continuous periods, with each period taking five years and where the application for renewal shall apply during 90 days before the expiry date. In order to maintain an industrial design registration, an annual fee, pursuant to the IP Law, must be paid in advance by the rights-holder. The IP Law, however, does not specify the annual fees. The maintenance fees and registration fees are expected to be established by guiding decrees/regulations following the promulgation of the IP Law.
Industrial designs are registered with MOST.
The application for an industrial design must contain the following:
- A request for registration of the industrial design;
- The name and other personal data of the applicant/inventor;
- A notarised power of attorney, and if the application is filed through an agency, the agent’s name and address in Laos must be included;
- A notarised deed of assignment, transferring rights from the inventors to the applicants;
- Drawings or photographs of the industrial design;
- A statement of the type of goods to which the industrial design relates; and
- Receipt of payment of official fees.
The application can be filed in either English or Lao. However, application documents submitted in English must be translated into Lao within 90 days from the application filing date. The translation must be certified to be a correct translation.
An application for an industrial design may also contain a claim for priority. If priority is claimed, the applicant must submit a copy of the application on which the priority claim is based, certified as correct by the authority which received the application and showing the filing date. Such documents do not require any authentication, and may be filed, without fee, at any time within three months of the filing date of the application in Laos.
Upon receiving an application for an industrial design, MOST will conduct a formality examination to ensure that the application is complete and meets the requirements. If the application is incomplete, MOST will notify the applicant, who will then have 60 days from the date of the notification to complete the application.
Applications for industrial designs are not examined as to substance.
Any person, legal entity, or organisation may apply for an industrial design. A person, legal entity, or organisation residing in a foreign country, however, must be represented by an authorised representative in Laos (i.e., an IP agent).