The Brunei Intellectual Property Office (BruIPO) was formed on June 1, 2013 to restructure the national intellectual property (IP) administration. The BruIPO is responsible for the registration of patents, trademarks, industrial designs and plant varieties protection.
Among the objectives of the BruIPO is to administer and facilitate registration and renewal of trademarks, patents, industrial designs and plant varieties. While overseeing the development of the national IP system, the office also aims to raise awareness on the benefits of IP rights protection, enhancing business growth and competitiveness and promoting an ‘IP Culture’ where creativity and innovation can flourish.
The application system in Brunei Darussalam operates on a “first-to-file” basis. The first person to file a patent application will have priority over others for the same invention. The patent system’s key feature is its “self-assessing”, which allows applicants to decide how and when to proceed with the patent applications. In addition, the patent system is “formality-based”, and substantive examination work is outsourced to the foreign patent offices of Austria, Denmark and Hungary.
The Industrial Designs Order came into force in 2000 and provides for the registration of new industrial designs or the visual appearance of products. BruIPO administers a registration system based on formalities examination only and does not conduct prior art searches.
For industrial designs to be registrable, the design must be new, which means it has not been registered, published, used or sold in Brunei or elsewhere before the date on which the application of registration is logged.
The design must be applied industrially, meaning that it must have been applied to more than 50 separate articles which altogether do not constitute a single article or articles manufactured and duplicated in a number of lengths and pieces, except handmade articles.
Once accepted for registration, the industrial designs will be published in the Industrial Designs Journal and a certificate of registration will be issued to the applicant.
Registration is for an initial period of five years and extendable for two periods of five years each, totalling a maximum of 15 years subject to the payment of a renewal fee at the end of the fifth year.
According to the BruIPO website, a trademark means any perceptible sign capable of being represented graphically which is capable of distinguishing goods or services of one undertaking from those of other undertakings. A trademark may consist of words including personal names, designs, letters, numerals, or the shape of goods or their packaging.
Since 2017, Brunei has been accepting registrations for non-traditional marks: smell, sound and taste – so long as an applicant can visually represent the product’s mark in writing. While not compulsory, there are advantages to register a trademark. A registered trademark owner can get exclusive legal rights to use, sell, or license their trademark and can stop others from using their trademarks without their permission.
Protection of a trademark begins on the date on which the application for its registration is filed and it is initially protected for 10 years. This may be renewed indefinitely subject to the payment of a renewal fee.
Previously, trademark protection in Brunei was territorial, which means a trademark registered with BruIPO is only protected in Brunei. In 2016, Brunei joined the Madrid System for international trademark registration. The system allows local applicants to protect their trademark overseas, subject to a fee.
The plant varieties protection system provides an incentive for private research and development into new breeding techniques. It also encourages the development of new and beneficial plant varieties for use by farmers and consumers, advancing the society’s development in agriculture, horticulture and forestry. In addition to preventing others from using the variety without permission, the protection allows plant breeders to gain an exclusive right to produce for sale and sell propagating material of the plant variety.
A plant variety is given a protection term of up to 25 years, subject to the payment of annual renewal fees. In order to be eligible for protection in Brunei, a plant variety must fulfill four conditions.
Firstly, the variety must be novel (new) and thus has not been sold or disposed of without the consent of the breeder. Secondly, the variety must be distinct, meaning that it is clearly distinguishable from any other variety whose existence is a matter of common knowledge at the time of the filing of the application. The third condition is that the variety must be uniform in its relevant characteristics. Lastly, the variety must be stable, meaning that the relevant characteristics must remain unchanged after repeated propagation.
All plant genera and species are protectable under the Plant Varieties Protection Order, 2015. As protection is territorial, a plant variety registered with BruIPO is only protected in Brunei. Applicants will need to file directly at the foreign IP office of the jurisdiction where they intend to protect their plant variety.
BruIPO signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) with the Japan Patent Office (JPO) on May 24, 2015 to enhance cooperation in the IP field, namely trademarks, patents and industrial designs.
Within the ambit of the MoC, JPO has supported BruIPO in developing its capacity through the training and dispatch of experts, as well as through the compilation of formality examination guidelines for patents.
On August 28, 2017, the BruIPO signed an agreement with JPO to kick-start a new patent examination cooperation initiative called the Patent Prosecution Highway Plus (PPH+).
The PPH+ is a patent examination cooperation work-sharing initiative by the JPO. It aims to accelerate the examination process for corresponding patent applications from Japan and those filed in participating IP offices.
Since the implementation of the indigenous patent system in Brunei in 2012, the Danish Patent and Trademark Office (DKPTO) has been acting as BruIPO’s examiner. On August 29, 2017, BruIPO and KPTO signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on a referral arrangement to conduct substantive searching and examination of patents. The MoU signified the continuation of collaborative efforts between the two offices in the area of patents for a further five years.
On March 27, 2018, an MoC was signed between the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) and the heads of ASEAN IP offices to cooperate and work towards the development of IP systems.
The agreement is designed to meet the goals of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by transforming ASEAN into an innovative and competitive region through the use of IP and ensuring that the region remains an active player in the international IP community.
In addition, the agreement aimed to promote innovation and technology and contribute to the economic partnership and growth of ASEAN and Korea.
On March 11, 2019, an MoU was signed between Brunei Darussalam and the Republic of Korea on the Recognition of KIPO as an International Searching Authority and International Preliminary Examining Authority (ISA/IPEA) under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) for BruIPO.
The MoU was signed during a three-day state visit of the Republic of Korea President Moon Jae-in to Brunei Darussalam, showing the close bilateral relationship between the two countries. The signing of the MoU further strengthened such ties.
As of January 23, 2019, the BruIPO has made its trademark and design data available to the TMview and DesignView search tools.
With BruIPO on board TMview and DesignView, both tools now contain data from 68 participating offices. With the addition of more than 46,000 trademarks from BruIPO, TMview provides information and access to more than 52.5 million trademarks in total. DesignView contains more than 14.4 million designs, including 190 designs from BruIPO.
Since the introduction of TMview on April 13, 2010, the tool has served more than 51.2 million searches from 166 different countries. Spain, China and Germany are among the most frequent users.
DesignView went live on November 19, 2012 and has since then served almost 4.4 million searches from 163 different countries, with users from the United Kingdom, Germany and China among the most frequent users.
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