WIPO Patent Law Committee Adopts Work Programme; Good Omen, Some Say 30/06/2016 by Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch 1 Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)World Intellectual Property Organization members attending this week’s patent law committee meeting agreed on a work programme, reflecting divergent views on patents and health, exceptions and limitations, and patent quality. WIPO Standing Committee on the Law of Patents The agreement was hailed as a success of constructive compromise by many countries and seen as a positive sign for future discussions at WIPO. After a day of deliberations, the 24th session of the Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP), taking place from 27-30 June, concluded in agreement, in stark contrast with the last session of the committee in December 2015, when no future work could be planned. The summary [pdf] of the session by Committee Chair Bucura Ionescu of Romania was swiftly adopted this afternoon, as well as a programme [pdf] for the future work of the committee. The SCP is at the heart of the discussions on the international patent system and how countries can work with that system, according to their level of development, their national priorities, and their international obligations. The work programme is articulated around the five topics on which delegates had agreed in the past: Exceptions and limitations to patent rights; Quality of patents, including opposition systems; Patents and health; Confidentiality of communications between clients and their patent advisors; and Transfer of technology. Although all WIPO members have interests in those topics, their views differ on how to deal with those subjects. All regional groups said at the close of the session that the work programme which was agreed upon was balanced and represented the interests of all regions. However, most of the work programme is expected to be “confined to fact-finding” and should not lead to harmonisation, the document on future work says. Exceptions and Limitations, Quality of Patents In general, the topic of exceptions and limitations is of interest to developing and least-developed countries. For the next session, the WIPO secretariat is expected to prepare a compilation of information to be submitted by members and observers of the SCP, detailing their practical experiences on the effectiveness and challenges they have met while using exceptions and limitations, in particular in addressing development issues. A sharing session on case studies, including court cases on those exceptions and limitations that have proven effective to address development issues, is also planned. Patent quality, meanwhile, has been a topic promoted by developed countries, although developing countries have said that they are also interested in having high quality of patents. Developing countries however have been reluctant to engage in discussions on work sharing between patent offices, which developed countries find is a good way to reduce the burden on patent offices and improve the search and examination process. The work programme on the quality of patents foresees a questionnaire to be circulated by the WIPO secretariat seeking to collect information on how each member state understands the quality of patents. It also will collect information on the implementation of cooperation and collaboration between patent offices in search and examination of patent applications, including experiences, their impacts, the tools to share information, and capacity building needs. A sharing session is also planned on examples and cases relating to assessment of inventive step, including, but not limited to topics suggested in a proposal by Spain [pdf] at this session (IPW, WIPO, 27 June 2016). US Informational Paper on Patent Quality During the week, the United States presented an informational paper [pdf] on the Enhanced Patent Quality Initiative, in which they explain that in January 2015, the US Patent and Trademark Office established the new senior level position of Deputy Commissioner for Patent Quality, In February 2015, the USPTO launched the Enhanced Patent Quality Initiative (EPQI), which involves “a comprehensive review and reformulation of internal USPTO processes meant to enhance the quality of issued patents,” according to the paper. Patents and Health The topic of patents and health is generally favoured by developing countries who say that the high price of patented medicines can act as a barrier in the access of those medicines in developing and least-developed countries. Developed countries are of the view that patents can guarantee innovation of new drugs, acting as an incentive and reward for the pharmaceutical industry. The work programme includes a sharing session on national experiences relating to the use of health-related patent flexibilities for promoting public health objectives with a view to explore the issues to be examined in a study to be submitted to the 26th session of the SCP. Also included in the work programme under this topic is further discussion on the feasibility study on the disclosure of International Non-proprietary Names (INN) in patent applications and patents, specifically where the INN is known to applicants at the time of filing. The African Group submitted a tentative work programme [pdf] on patents and health during the session, which was supported by some developing countries, while some developed countries said they needed more time to consider it. Client-Advisor Confidentiality, Tech Transfer Developed countries also have interest in the confidentiality of communications between clients and their patent advisers. Some developing countries are of the view that this is a matter of national law and there is no need for an international framework for this. On this topic, the work programme indicates that the WIPO secretariat is to prepare a compilation of court cases with respect to aspects of client-patent advisor privilege including limitations or difficulties encountered. Finally, the transfer of technology is a topic which is favoured by developing and least-developed countries. The work programme includes a sharing-session on the relationship between patent systems and transfer of technology as well as examples presented by experts from different regions with a view to deepening the understanding of the impact of sufficiency of disclosure on transfer of technology. At the close of the meeting, India, for the Asia and Pacific Group, said the agreement on the work programme has created a positive spirit, which hopefully would spill over in other meetings. Nigeria, for the African Group, said this was “a splendid result for the committee” but also said that the group hopes that the next work programme will be more ambitious, in particular in promoting technology transfer, and exceptions and limitations. Group B developed countries and the European Union noted the success of the outcome and acknowledged the balanced work programme. Revision of WIPO Model Law: No Consensus Yet Meanwhile, a 2015 proposal by the Group of Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean (GRULAC) to update WIPO’s 1979 Model Law for Developing Countries on Inventions, was discussed during the week with some developing countries supporting the proposal and some developed countries opposing it (IPW, WIPO, 30 July 2015). According to the summary of the session, the chair proposed continuing discussion at the next session of the SCP. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Catherine Saez may be reached at email@example.com."WIPO Patent Law Committee Adopts Work Programme; Good Omen, Some Say" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.