Patents are the set of exclusive rights granted to inventors or their assignees to exploit an invention for a limited period of time. The IP Law defines patents as the “official certificate from the state organisation issued to protect inventions that are new, involve an inventive step and are capable of industrial application”. An invention is considered new if it has not existed, and has not been disclosed to the public by publication or by use (or by any other means) in Laos or any other country prior to the filing date of the patent application, or prior to the priority date (if priority is claimed). An invention has an inventive step when the invention is not obvious to a person having ordinary knowledge in the invention’s field of technology. An invention is considered industrially applicable if it has use in an industry.
Petty patents are the official certificates issued to protect utility innovations. The IP Law defines utility innovations as “new innovative work[s] derived through technical improvements, which involve simpler [inventive] steps than with inventions”. In order to receive a petty patent, the utility innovation must be new in the sense that it has not been previously known or used in Laos one year prior to the date of the application, or the priority date (if priority is claimed). The requirement as to the inventive step means that the utility innovation must involve a new technical improvement, but the level of the inventive step may be simpler than for patents. Finally, the innovative work must be industrially applicable, having the same definition for patents as set out above.
Industrial design certificates protect products’ special appearance, i.e., the combination of applied art and applied science of products. In order to obtain an industrial design certificate, the design must meet the following requirements: it must be new in the sense that it has not been disclosed to the public by publication, display or other means in Laos or internationally, prior to the filing date, or priority date (if priority is claimed); and must be ornamental. An industrial design is considered ornamental if “it gives a special appearance to the object which the design is applied to or in which it is embodied”.