Does Vietnam accept second medical use claims?

Like many developing countries, Vietnam has tended to exclude second (or subsequent) medical use inventions from patent protection in order to reduce drug prices. The patent office has interpreted current Vietnamese regulations as not including use inventions, including medical use inventions, and thus has objected to patent applications for such inventions.

New Circular 01-2007/TT-BKHCN of the Ministry of Science and Technology, providing detailed guidance for implementation of the IP Code, provided that “a subject-matter of a patent application should be regarded as incompatible with the title of protection applied for [invention] if this subject-matter is not a technical solution, in particular failing to be either a product or a process” (Article 25.3). Consequently, all patent applications with claims relating to medical uses in particular or to uses in general are now subject to rejection as early as during the stage of examination as to form.

Inventions relating to medical methods for treatment, prevention and/or diagnosis of diseases in animal and/or human beings were all rejected.

Claims in the “use” format are objected to on the ground that the subject-matter “use” in the claims is to be considered as neither a “product” nor a “process” and therefore, cannot be regarded as a statutory invention. In the past, such claim was often converted into a substance claim. At present, such converted claim is objected to.

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