Over the last few decades, countries belonging to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) all had to revise their intellectual property systems. These revisions resulted at first from bilateral pressure of major trading partners such as the US and EU, then from the WTO-TRIPS Agreement and more recently from bilateral Free Trade Agreements. To observe the IP developments in ASEAN over this period is interesting, because this group of countries covers developed (Singapore), developing as well as least developed countries. All countries had to reform their outdated laws from the colonial era in very short time. However, in comparison to the early 1980s, important differences with regards to intellectual property policies have emerged in recent years.
This article will briefly sketch the developments in individual ASEAN countries and after that examine some broader trends in law making, IP administration, enforcement and the court system. It concludes that the ASEAN enlargement process has created a very diverse picture with regards to IP. With the fast pace of the legislative development, countries have been struggling to keep up with the creation of the institutional and administrative framework. Progress in the ASEAN harmonisation process has been limited. Statistics indicate that some of the new laws have been reasonably well received at the domestic level, while the patent sector remains foreign dominated.