IP5 Patent Offices Strengthen Joint Work

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The heads of the world’s five largest intellectual property offices, who refer to themselves as the IP5, met today to discuss further efforts to improve quality and efficiency in patent examination, and harmonise patent systems. Joining them were industry representatives from each of the regions.

At the meeting, hosted by the Munich-based European Patent Office and held in Porticcio, France, were: EPO President Benoît Battistelli; Yoshiyuki Iwai, Commissioner of the Japan Patent Office (JPO); Kim Ho-Won, Commissioner of the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO); Tian Lipu, Commissioner of the State Intellectual Property Office of China (SIPO); and David Kappos, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). World Intellectual Property Organization Director General Francis Gurry attended in an observer capacity.

The five IP offices collectively handle approximately 90 per cent of the world’s patent applications. The IP5 group was formed in 2007.

According an EPO press release, this was the first high-level meeting of its kind, and that the commissioners said there was progress on cooperation in the areas of classification, machine translation of patent documents, and work-sharing.

The officers met with the industry and “sought input from users on their needs concerning the orientation of the IP5 cooperation,” the EPO said, adding, “Responding to the views put forward by industry, the five Heads expressed their common conviction that the focus of future IP5 initiatives should be even more user-directed.” The industry representatives were not named and there was no mention of a public interest perspective.

[Update: According to EPO sources, the industry representatives were from: the American Intellectual Property Law Association, Intellectual Property Owners Association (US); Japan Intellectual Property Association; BusinessEurope; Korea Intellectual Property Association; and the Patent Protection Association of China.

In the Chinese delegation, there were also representatives from ZTE and Huawei (corrected), the number 1 and 3 top PCT filers in the world. In total, there were about 30 industry participants, five from each association.]

The USPTO posted a blog about the event highlighting the focus on patent harmonisation here.

The EPO release summarised the work of the meeting as such:

“[T]he Heads of Office had an initial exchange of views on the ‘Cloud Patent Examination Solution (CPES)’ and ‘Global Dossier’ concept, which are aimed at simplifying procedures for patent applicants and improving the efficiency of the offices when dealing with the same patent application.”

“Simultaneously, they welcome the establishment of an expert panel to continue to discuss patent harmonisation, noting the importance to maintain the momentum. They reaffirmed agreement made last year in Tokyo to accelerate the Common Hybrid Classification Project (CPC) under a revised mandate which takes into account the launching of a new classification scheme developed by USPTO and EPO from January 1st 2013.”

“They also reflected on the realignment of the 10 IP5 Foundation Projects to address more effectively the challenges of a rapidly evolving IP landscape. A further key issue was the definition and implementation of a joint strategy to improve work-sharing.”

“The Heads reaffirmed, moreover, their commitment to improving the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) as the primary work-sharing framework,” it said. “The PCT already enables applicants to seek simultaneous patent protection with a single international application for up to 145 countries.” The PCT is overseen by WIPO.

The next heads of office meeting will be hosted by the USPTO in 2013.

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