Pharmaceuticals in South East Asia

Despite its collective reference, South East Asia is a historically- and culturally-diverse region of the world. This historical and cultural diversity is reflected in the differences in laws between countries in this region, and, not surprisingly, in the aspects of patent law that have been the subject of debate in many other jurisdictions – the patentability of methods of medical treatment, and the practice of providing for extensions of the term for patents directed to pharmaceutical substances.

Only recently has the patentability of methods of medical treatment been confirmed in Australia by Australia’s highest court (our article on this decision is Pharmaceutical companies breathe a sigh of relief: Australia’s highest court confirms that methods of medical treatment are patentable). In addition, only as of last year has New Zealand added an explicit exemption in respect of methods of medical treatment into its legislation – previously, the exemption existed only in case law (our article on New Zealand’s new law is Introducing… New Zealand’s Patents Act 2013).

While there is still scope for obtaining other types of “medical use” claims in most South East Asian countries (where method of treatment claims are not themselves allowable), provisions for extending the term of a patent for a pharmaceutical substance are not common amongst the South East Asian member states.

In the following table, Pharmaceuticals in South East Asia, we summarise the current legal position of a number of South East Asian countries in respect of the patentability of methods of medical treatment, and extensions of patent term. You can find further information on the patent term extension regime in Australia on our Extension of Term page.