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Guidelines for the substantive examination of trademarks

This activity is aimed at enhancing the quality, consistency and transparency of the work undertaken by the ASEAN IP Offices with regard to the substantive examination of trademark applications.  This result will be achieved through the adoption of common guidelines as may be applicable by interested ASEAN IP Offices.  Those guidelines will focus on areas of common interest to those offices.  They will make reference to relevant law and case law and will provide an up-to-date summary of the practices followed by those Offices in those areas.  They will offer a practical training tool for trademark examiners and a useful reference document for professional advisors.  They will be available for incorporation into the national manuals for trademark examination of interested IP Offices. 





In 2014, the common guidelines were elaborated in English by a group of experts from the ASEAN IP Offices with the assistance of a project consultant.  In their elaboration, due account was taken of the laws, regulations, case law and practices of the participating ASEAN countries, including those already reflected in existing trademark examination manuals.  The EU Community Trade Mark examination guidelines also served as a reference material. This activity was implemented in three phases, as described below.


        Expert Missions 2014


In preparation for the elaboration of the common guidelines, the project provided for a legal expert that undertook consultations with officials of each of the ASEAN IP Offices.


During the expert missions to the ten ASEAN IP Offices carried out in May and June 2014, reference material to draft the common guidelines was compiled. They also provided for the exchange of practical information on the manner in which the absolute and relative grounds for the refusal of trademark registrations were being interpreted and applied by the trademark authorities in each country. As a result, a first draft of the common guidelines on substantive trademark examination was prepared. 


       Meeting on ASEAN Common Guidelines on Trademark Substantive Examination, Bangkok, July 2014


An ASEAN IP Offices Consultation Meeting on the Common Guidelines on Trademarks Substantive Examination was held in Bangkok, Thailand, from 21 to 25 July 2014. The meeting was attended by senior trademark experts from the ASEAN IP Offices, a representative of the ASEAN Secretariat, a legal expert and the ECAP Project Leader and IP expert.


The meeting provided for a platform during which the first draft of the Common Guidelines was examined and discussed in detail. The meeting also provided suggestions and examples to supplement and further elaborate specific parts of the guidelines.


The meeting adopted a number of recommendations and steps forward for the review of the drafted guidelines and the issuance of a final version later in 2014.


Common Guidelines on TM Substantive Examination Meeting      Link to Event…


       Adoption of the ASEAN Common Guidelines on Substantive Examination of Trademarks


Following the review of the draft guidelines during the meeting that took place in Bangkok in July 2015, a revised version was completed in September 2014 and circulated to all ASEAN IP Offices, providing the opportunity for further input. The final draft of the guidelines was then submitted to the ASEAN IP Offices in November 2014 for consideration by the Task Force on Trademark Cooperation (TM Task Force) constituted under the ASEAN Working Group on IP Cooperation (AWGIPC). 


The ASEAN Common Guidelines on the Substantive Examination of Trademarks, prepared with the assistance of the project, were endorsed by the TM Task Force at their meeting in Makati City in November 2014.  They were subsequently approved by the AWGIPC in December 2014. 





The ASEAN Common Guidelines on the Substantive Examination of Trademarks are available for incorporation into the national manuals for trademark examination of interested IP Offices. As the guidelines have been elaborated in English, the project will support the translation of those guidelines into the national languages of interested ASEAN Member States.