Patent Fast-Track Program for Medical Inventions in Thailand
Radeemada Mungkarndee and Tienkul Kangwanwong, Lexel IP Co., Ltd (Thailand)
Efficient treatments, such as pharmaceuticals, vaccines, and medical devices, play a vital role in combating a range of diseases and health conditions. These treatments not only contribute to public health but also enhance people’s overall well-being. During the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, effective treatments, medical devices, medicines, and vaccines have been essential in controlling the spread of the disease and reducing the number of deaths. Additionally, access to efficient treatments and medical devices can improve the quality of life for patients with chronic illnesses or disabilities.
To further support the development of efficient medical treatments and promote innovation in Thailand, the Department of Intellectual Property (the “DIP”), Ministry of Commerce, issued the notice in May 2022, regarding the Target Patent Fast-Track Program (the “Patent Fast-Track”) which came into effect on 1 June 2022. The Patent Fast-Track aims to expedite the examination process for patent applications and petty patent applications related to the medical field. By doing so, the Patent Fast-Track is expected to support businesses in Thailand and align with the country’s strategic direction to establish Thailand as a medical hub in the ASEAN region. As of March 2023, ten invention patent applications and ten petty patent applications have been selected to participate in the Patent Fast-Track.
To be eligible in the Patent Fast-Track, applicants are required to meet certain criteria and submit a request to the DIP. The criteria are as follows:
- The invention must be related to products, processes, materials, compositions, and/or devices in the medical technology field, with the potential for commercial use and ability to provide public health benefits.
- The application must be filed in Thailand as a priority country or as a receiving office under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT).
- The application must already be submitted a request for substantive examination for invention patent, and for petty patent, the application has already filed with the DIP for not less than three months.
- The application must not exceed 10 claims.
- The application must either be filed through the electronic filing system (the “e-Filing System”) or be converted to this system prior to submitting the request to participate in the Patent Fast-Track; and
- All required documents for filing the application, such as statement of applicant’s right, deed of assignment, and/or power of attorney, have been submitted to the Thai Patent Office.
In addition, along with submitting a request, applicants are required to submit a maximum four-page A4 document that explains (1) the invention’s potential contribution to public health benefits, and (2) its commercialization potential, including production, commercialization, and/or licensing plans.
If an application is selected for the Patent Fast-Track, the DIP will expedite the examination process. For invention patents, a final office action will be issued within 12 months from the selected date, while for petty patents, it will be within 6 months.
The office action will be issued through the e-filing system, and the applicant must submit the necessary explanations or amendments in response to such office action within 30 days from the date of receiving the office action. Failure to respond to the office action will result in abandoning the application from the Patent Fast-Track