The Brunei Intellectual Property Office (BruIPO) was formed on June 1, 2013 to restructure the national intellectual property (IP) administration. BruIPO is responsible for the registration of patents, trademarks, industrial designs and plant varieties protection. While overseeing the development of the national IP system, BruIPO 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.
To increase the efficiency of its services, BruIPO launched an e-filing portal for patents, trademarks, industrial designs and post-filing. There is also an online database that allows companies to search for IP rights such as patents, trademarks and industrial designs which have been registered or applied in Brunei.
A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention, which can be a product or a process that provides a new way of doing something, or a new technical solution to a problem. The application system in Brunei Darussalam operates on a “first-to-file” basis, which means the first person to file a patent application will have priority over others for the same invention.
With the system’s “self-assessing” feature, applicants can decide how and when to proceed with the patent applications. The patent system is “formality-based”, and substantive examination work is outsourced to the foreign patent offices of Austria, Denmark and Hungary.
A patent provides protection for 20 years, subject to the payment of renewal fees. Additionally, a patent granted by BruIPO is only protected in Brunei. Applicants can seek international patent protection by filing an international patent via the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT).
An industrial design is the feature of shape, configuration, pattern or ornament applied to a product which gives the product a unique appearance. It does not include a method or principle of construction.
The Industrial Designs Order came into force in 2000 and provides for the registration of new industrial designs or the visual appearance of products. 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 articles which altogether do not constitute a single set of articles, or to articles manufactured in lengths and pieces, not being handmade articles.
Once accepted for registration, the industrial designs will be published in the Industrial Designs Journal. A certificate of registration will be issued to the applicant.
A registered industrial design is protected for a period of five years beginning from the filing date. It can be renewed for a further period of 10 years, upon payment of a renewal fee, which is payable every five years.
An industrial design registered with BruIPO is only protected in Brunei. Applicants who wish for their industrial design to be protected worldwide may file an international application via the Hague System.
Trademark is a sign capable of distinguishing the goods or services produced or provided by one enterprise from those of another enterprise. A trademark may consist of words (including personal names), designs, letters, numerals and the shape of goods or their packaging. Since 2017, Brunei has been accepting registrations for non-traditional marks including 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 the registration of 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 trademark 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 for another 10 years subject to the payment of a renewal fee.
A trademark registered with BruIPO is only protected in Brunei. However, local applicants may file an international application via The Madrid System Protocol.
As of 2019, BruIPO has made its trademark and design data available to the TMview and DesignView search tools. Over 46,000 trademarks and 190 designs were added to TMview and DesignView respectively by BruIPO.
A plant variety protection is a right granted to give the breeder exclusive control over the propagating material and harvested material of a new variety of plants for a number of years. The 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. A plant variety must fulfil four conditions to be eligible for protection in Brunei.
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.
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.
Copyright is an exclusive right given to the creator or author of works so that only they can use and reproduce what they have created for their own purposes. Protection of copyright is automatic thus there is no formal procedure for registration in Brunei. Furthermore, since Brunei is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (Berne), works created in Brunei can be protected in other countries who are a member of WTO and/or Berne.
The works covered by copyright include literary works such as novels, poems, computer programs, newspaper; dramatic works such as plays or choreography; musical works such as music; artistic works such as sculpture, architecture, maps, technical drawings, paintings, photographs and so on.
Since the implementation of Brunei’s indigenous patent system in 2012, the Danish Patent and Trademark Office (DKPTO) has been acting as BruIPO’s examiner. On August 29, 2017, BruIPO and DKPTO 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.
BruIPO has also signed agreements with the Japan Patent Office (JPO) to enhance cooperation in the IP field. On May 24, 2015, BruIPO signed a memorandum of cooperation (MoC) with JPO.
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, 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 JPO. It aims to accelerate the examination process for corresponding patent applications from Japan and those filed in participating IP offices.
On March 27, 2018, an MoC was signed between the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) and the heads of ASEAN IP offices including BruIPO to cooperate and work towards the development of IP systems. The agreement aims 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.
On March 11, 2019, an MoU was signed between Brunei and 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.
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