Intellectual property (IP) and IP Rights (IPR) creation, commercialization, and protection have been a significant source of comparative advantage of enterprises and economies and a major driver of their competitive strategies. Indeed, ASEAN is fully aware of the pressing need for a long-term policy commitment to collectively transform the region into one which is largely based on knowledge, driven by innovation and sustained by life-long learning.

Member Countries have pledged to work together to help accelerate the pace and scope of IP asset creation, commercialization and protection; to improve the regional framework of policies and institutions relating to IP and IPRs, including the development and harmonization of enabling IPR registration systems; to promote IP cooperation and dialogues within the region as well with the region’s Dialogue Partners and organizations; to strengthen IP-related human and institutional capabilities in the region, including fostering greater public awareness of issues and implications, relating to IP and IPRs. The new action plan on IPRs for 2004-2010 would cover all these aspects.

The Experts Group on Trademark has finalized the ASEAN Filing Form for Trademarks and the Notes for the Completion of the Application. These achievements, together with the completed ASEAN Common Form and the consolidated ASEAN list of ethnic goods and services, represent important steps forward in the regional cooperation in IP. Despite its inherent complexities, Member Countries have continued their efforts in the harmonization of the trademark filing requirements. This is a process of significant importance towards the establishment of a regional filing system.

Meanwhile, the Experts Group on Patents continues to examine the many substantive differences in design laws and procedures that need harmonisation in ASEAN. The deliberations of the Expert Group have been greatly assisted by various detailed consultations with private-sector organizations as well as the experiences of the European Community Design (CD) system in the EU.

Collaboration among Member Countries is now extended to copyright and related rights and preparatory work on a cooperation programme in this regard has been initiated. Member Countries have also made substantive progress in ensuring the conformance of their IP legislations to the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement. Concerted efforts have also been made to better monitor, enforce and prosecute IPR infringements. Of considerable assistance in this connection are the regular exchanges of IP policy experiences and developments among Member Countries and promotion of greater public awareness of issues and implications relating to IP and IPRs.

ASEAN continues its active cooperation in the IP sector with the Dialogue Partners, donor countries and agencies and private sector organizations – including the ASEAN Intellectual Property Association, the International Trademark Association, Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM), World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), Australia, EU, and Japan Patent Office. A medium-term cooperation programme in the field of IPRs for 2004-2006 between ASEAN and the United States Patent and Trademark Office has been adopted.