On November 23, 2020, the Intellectual Property Office of Vietnam (IP Office) issued Notification No. 13822/TB-SHTT tightening the requirements for signatories of all documents submitted to the IP Office, including powers of attorney (POAs).
In the past, the IP Office has accepted POAs (as well as other documents) signed by any representatives internally authorized by the IP holders. However, under the new notification, the IP Office requires all documents to be signed by a legal representative of the applicant or owner, such as the chairman of the board, president, CEO, general director, etc. If the documents are signed by other signatories, additional evidence proving that the signatories have the capacity to represent the IP owners or applicants is also required. If such evidence is not available then the document must be legalized.
Although the notification does not indicate when this new practice will be applied, an informal check with the IP Office revealed that it is effective immediately for all new cases, including cases that use new POAs/documents and new cases that refer to old POAs which were previously submitted to and accepted by the IP Office. This practice will apply to both Vietnamese and foreign applicants and owners who pursue registration and protection of their IP rights in Vietnam.
It is unclear how this will affect pending cases at the IP Office, and this appears to still be under consideration. In some recent cases, the IP Office has asked the IP agents to confirm in writing that the signatories are eligible to represent the applicants or owners. The IP Office may continue this practice for pending cases in the near future. If so, we can handle the IP Office's request at our end. If there is any change, we will let you know in a timely manner.
Based on the above circumstances, for new cases, we recommend the following:
- All documents that will be submitted to the IP Office, including POAs and other documents, should be signed by a legal representative of the company, such as the chairman of the board, president, CEO, general director, etc.
- If the documents are signed by other signatories, such as a deputy of a senior executive, department head, attorney-in-fact, authorized signatory, proxy, officer, etc., then additional documents proving that the capacity of the signatories to represent the applicants or owners are also required.
- In our informal discussion with the IP Office, the officers also indicated that instead of additional documents proving the capacity of the signatories, the applicants or owners can have documents that were signed by other signatories notarized by a notary public, and the notary's certification should indicate that the signatories are authorized to sign the relevant documents. Although this is not mentioned in the notification, the IP Office has accepted such notarized documents in some recent cases. Therefore, in our opinion, this can be an alternative when it is difficult to arrange for the documents mentioned in Items 1 and 2 above.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.