Recently the Vietnam IP Office (VNIPO) has required that all documents (such as POA, agreements, declaration etc.) must be signed by legal representative(s) of companies (acceptable titles include without limitations to CEO, Director, Chairman or President). We see that the VNIPO has issued a number of Office Actions in this regard.
Previously the VNIPO used to be more open in receiving documents filed by foreign companies, and common signatories, such as Assistant Secretary or Authorized Counsel were sufficient to go.
Applicants, particularly foreign companies, would likely be unhappy with this practice change, especially when many regions worldwide are still in lockdown/social distancing and/or work-from-home mode, causing huge difficulties on paperwork during this time.
Check out our Legal Alert in the attached link for a full report and analyses on the new legal notice issued by the VNIPO in formalizing this practice change.
The recently modified practice at the VNIPO applies a more rigid system for the titles of representatives and their relevant authorizations. Previously, the POAs (and other documents) signed by any representative internally authorized by IP holders were all accepted without any demands to prove the signing authority. From the VNIPO’s perspective, this change may be considered a reasonable method for ensuring (i) the validity of submitted documents and (ii) the consistency of all procedures to pursue the registration of an IP object (from establishment to maintenance). All IP rights owners may therefore face the risk of their existing POAs, which do not meet the new requirements, being rejected by the VNIPO. The Notice has not yet detailed how this new practice affects POAs that were already submitted and accepted for pending IP cases by the VNIPO. That said, we anticipate certain difficulties and challenges for IP holders, particularly foreign holders, as they need to pen fresh POAs to meet the strict requirements under the Notice. The Notice arrives at a time when many regions and jurisdictions are still in work-from-home mode. Not surprisingly, any paper work involving the signatories from high-level representatives and causes for legalization can be frustrating.